In response to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s New Year promise of implementing a “national living wage” in 2024, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has assembled a negotiation team to engage with the government. The existing minimum wage, established in 2018, is set to expire in April this year.
President Tinubu, in his New Year address, emphasized the importance of addressing the economic well-being of the working class and pledged to implement a new national living wage. However, with the current minimum wage’s imminent expiration, negotiations between the government and NLC are anticipated to shape the future wage structure.
NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero, revealed that the committee for the minimum wage review has not been constituted by the government, despite labor’s submission of team members. Reflecting on past agreements, he highlighted the government’s failure to fulfill promises, including the N35,000 petrol subsidy palliative.
Ajaero reiterated his earlier stance that the new minimum wage should not be less than N200,000, considering economic indices. When questioned about negotiation strategies, he emphasized that proposals would not be disclosed publicly but assured transparency once finalized.
Factors such as the cost of living, currency devaluation, and comparisons with similar economies will play a crucial role in determining the proposed minimum wage. Ajaero suggested that negotiations might conclude within a week if the government demonstrates seriousness, pointing to a potential implementation in April when the current minimum wage’s lifespan expires.
Addressing concerns about the government’s commitment to paying higher wages, Ajaero emphasized the need to uphold agreements and indicated that arrears of the N35,000 wage award must be settled. While acknowledging variations in implementation across sectors, he stressed the importance of holding both private and public entities accountable.
As the NLC gears up for negotiations, the outcome will significantly impact the economic landscape and the well-being of the Nigerian workforce.