The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Joe Ajaero, has announced that if the ongoing inflation continues unabated, organized labor might push for a new minimum wage of up to N1 million for Nigerian workers.
Ajaero stated that the cost of living, which has been rising since President Bola Tinubu took office, would have an impact on organized labour demand, particularly due to the withdrawal of fuel subsidies and other policies.
The NLC president stated this in an interview with Arise News on Sunday evening.
He said, “This N1 million may be relevant if the value of the Nigerian (naira) continues to depreciate and if inflation continues unchecked because the demand for labour is equally dependent on what is happening in society.”
“You will remember that by the time we were contemplating N200,000 (as the minimum wage), the exchange rate was about N800/N900 (to a dollar). As we talk today, the exchange rate is about N1,400 or even more.
“Those are the issues that determine demand, and they are equally affecting the cost of living. And we have always said that our demand will be based on the cost of living index. You will agree with me today that even a bag of rice is going for about N60,000 or N70,000 or more.”
He added that, “A bag of locally produced corn is about N56,000 or more. Food is getting out of reach; now are we going to get a minimum wage that will not be enough for transportation even for one week?
“You have to factor in these issues, and that will determine the federal government’s commitment to this negotiation. It is not just that they want to give us a minimum wage.
“The old minimum wage will be expiring by April, and ordinarily, the Federal Government ought to have set up a committee six months before that time so that negotiations would have commenced, but the Federal Government didn’t do that until recently, when they inaugurated a committee, and the committee has not sat.
“It appears we are going to work within one month or two to agree on a figure, and I doubt how those are going to especially when you look at the people that the Federal Government assembled as members of the committee.
“They looked at some of the governors that are not paying even the existing minimum wage, and even they have a minister of budget who didn’t implement his minimum wage as a governor.
“If you have these people on the government team on the issue of minimum wage, some of us have not seen a bright future in the work of this new minimum wage committee.”
Both the NLC and the Trade Union Congress issued a 14-day strike notice to the Federal Government last Thursday, expressing dissatisfaction with its failure to follow a 16-point accord made in October 2023.
This agreement between the NLC and TUC, aims to reduce the pain caused by rising petrol prices and the devaluation of the naira, which have led to greater hardship and inflation.
The NLC urged theFederal Government to execute its responsibilities during the 14 days beginning on Friday, February 9, 2024.