Labour will demand minimum wage arrears — NLC/TUC

Workers will demand payment of minimum wage arrears irrespective of when a new national minimum wage law is passed by the National Assembly, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) said on Thursday.

The last national minimum wage law expired on April 18, 2024, after completing its five-year lifespan. It came into effect on April 17, 2019, when former President Muhammadu Buhari signed it into law.

 

The NLC president, Joe Ajaero, and his TUC counterpart, Festus Osifo, disclosed this on the sidelines of the ongoing International Labour Conference (ILC) organised by the International Labour Organization (ILO) at the Palais du Nation in Geneva, Switzerland.

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During a joint briefing on the issue, Ajaero explained that labour expects the President to invite tripartite bodies to a meeting where the ability to pay will be discussed before arriving at a final figure.

“We do not expect the President to present a final figure to the National Assembly without consulting with organised labour, employers, and state governors. Everyone will still come together to discuss before transmission to the National Assembly,” he said.

 

In addition, Osifo added that even after transmission to the National Assembly, labour will continue to lobby and push for more in its bid to secure the best possible figure for Nigerian workers.

 

Regarding the report submitted to the President, both labour leaders denied knowledge of its full content.

“Moreover, we have not seen the content of what has been submitted to the President. We will insist on seeing the content and appending our signatures to every page. We will not append our signatures to any page we are not comfortable with,” Ajaero stated.

 

Though both Osifo and Ajaero have an idea of the least acceptable figure, they declined to disclose it until the final negotiations have taken place.

“As representatives here, we cannot specify the exact amount until we consult, review the offers, and determine what is fair for Nigerian workers,” Ajaero added.

 

Osifo remarked, “It took about two years to conclude the last minimum wage negotiation. That duration was due to fewer challenges compared to what we face now. Food prices are high, the Naira is devalued, and energy costs have escalated. Currently, urgency is paramount. We don’t have the luxury of time. Negotiations began in January this year, and we are already discussing sending a bill to the National Assembly for a new minimum wage law. Since April 18, 2024, Nigeria has lacked a minimum wage law. However, I assure Nigerians that labour will demand arrears payment, regardless of when the new law takes effect.”

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