Labour’s N494,000 wage demand will destabilize Nigerian economy, cause job loss – FG

* Says private sector has accepted N60,000 minimum wage

By Nudoiba Ojen

The Federal Government has said that the organised labour’s demand for a national minimum wage of N494,000 is economically unsustainable and can destabilise the economy and negatively impact over 200 million Nigerians.

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, said at a news conference in Abuja on Saturday that the N494,O00 being proposed by Labour would result in an annual expenditure of N9.5 trillion, a burden he described as untenable for the nation’s finances.

Idris called on organised labour to return to the negotiating table to agree on more reasonable and realistic wages.

Idris, in a statement by his media aide Rabiu Ibrahim, said that the government’s current offer of N60,000 minimum wage, representing 100 per cent increase from the 2019 rate, had been accepted by the organised private sector involved in the wage negotiations.

The minister said, “The Federal Government’s new minimum wage proposal amounts to a 100 per cent increase on the existing minimum wage in 2019. Labour, however, wanted N494,000, which would increase by 1,547 per cent on the existing wage.

“The sum of N494,000 national minimum wage which Labour is seeking would cumulatively amount to the sum N9.5 trillion bill to the Federal Government of Nigeria,” Idris said.

He stressed the potential economic fallout, including massive job losses, particularly in the private sector, if the labour demand was met.

“Nigerians need to understand that whereas the FG is desirous of ample remuneration for Nigerian workers, what is most critical is that President Bola Tinubu will not encourage any action that could lead to massive job loss, especially in the private sector, who may not be able to pay the wage demanded by the organised labour,” Idris stated.

The Minister said that while labour was advocating for higher wages for approximately 1.2 million workers, the government’s priority was the welfare of the entire population, guided by principles of affordability and sustainability.

He reiterated the Tinubu administration’s commitment to workers’ welfare, noting that the current wage award of N35,000 for federal workers will continue until a new national minimum wage is established.

Recall that the organized Labour on Friday, declared a nationwide indefinite strike starting at midnight on Sunday, June 2, 2024, due to the Federal Government’s refusal to increase the proposed minimum wage above N60,000 and as well failure to reverse the hike in electricity tariff.

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