‘Next labour action over minimum wage depends on Tinubu, National Assembly’

By Nudoiba Ojen

Following last Friday’s stalemated negotiations on a new national minimum wage, the Organised Labour has said that President Bola Tinubu and the National Assembly will determine its next line of action.

The tripartite committee on new national minimum wage on Friday, June 8, ended negotiations without an agreement due to sharp division in offers between employers (government and OPS) and organised labour (Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria).

Labour spoke as industry experts and financial analysts said that the economy is on a tough road to recovery and that the minimum wage agitation and return of fuel subsidy will further complicate the process and prospect of early recovery.

The Federal Government negotiating team added N2,000 to its earlier offer of N60,000, leading to the deadlock that forced labour to declare a nationwide strike.

As a result of the deadlock, the committee resolved to take both the N62,000 offer by the Federal Government team which has the backing of the OPS and N250,000 now demanded by organised labour to President Bola Tinubu for further action.

A member of Labour’s negotiating team, said, “At this point, we are looking up to the President and the National Assembly to right the wrong done by the government negotiators and their OPS counterpart. It was a high level conspiracy among the Federal Government negotiators, the state governors and the OPS.

“Members of OPS hid under the bogus name of small and medium enterprises, SMEs, to claim they cannot pay reasonable wages.

“The OPS had willing tools in state governors who, from the onset, did not attend most of the meetings and never wanted to improve the wages of their employees, but were clandestinely meeting with OPS to scuttle any chance of a reasonable wage.

“For the Federal Government side, members of the team, besides ensuring that Mr President did not know the true situation of things, members did everything, including threats, to ensure we did not move forward.

“Well, we have done our best. Since it was Mr President that set up the committee in the first place, we have returned the responsibility of doing the right thing to him. Don’t forget Mr President has always promised Nigerian workers a living wage. He now has all the opportunities to fulfill his promise to the Nigerian workers.

“However, in case Mr President fails to do the right thing, members of the National Assembly who are representatives of people, should rightly take up the responsibility of making Nigerian workers earn a living wage.

“We believe if the executive arm pretends not to be aware of the sufferings and pains Nigerian workers and masses are going through, we expect our representatives in the National Assembly to appreciate our pains.

‘’The issue will come to them (National Assembly members) as an executive bill. From there, they should take it up and make the nation’s workforce happier.

“What Mr President and the National Assembly do will determine our next line of action. After that, we can hold our organs’ meetings to decide our responses. For now, we have to wait. That is all I can say,“ the labour chieftain said.

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