The meeting held yesterday between the Federal Government and Organized Labor ended without a resolution, as leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) rejected the government’s proposals. However, the meeting is scheduled to reconvene at 4 p.m. today.
Sources at the meeting revealed that the labor leaders turned down President Bola Tinubu’s offer of a provisional wage increase of N25,000 for low-grade workers to offset the impact of removing the petrol subsidy. In response to government threats of a court order, the labor leaders firmly stated that this offer was unacceptable.
President Tinubu had announced in a nationwide address during Nigeria’s 63rd Independence Anniversary that, “Based on our talks with labor, business, and other stakeholders, we are introducing a provisional wage increment to enhance the federal minimum wage without causing undue inflation. For the next six months, the average low-grade worker shall receive an additional Twenty-Five Thousand naira per month. Commencing this month, the social safety net is being extended through the expansion of cash transfer programs to an additional 15 million vulnerable households.”
However, Organized Labor rejected this N25,000 provisional wage increase and demanded 200% of the current minimum wage. They also insisted that the wage increase should apply to all workers, not just for six months but until a new Minimum Wage Act is enacted next year.
Furthermore, labor leaders called for an increase in conditional cash transfers for the poorest and most vulnerable citizens, proposing an amount of N25,000 for 15 million vulnerable Nigerians, as opposed to the N5,000 provided by the previous administration.
After extended negotiations, the government’s delegation led by Chief of Staff Femi Gbajabiamila adjourned the meeting to consult with the President regarding the new demands. The Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, accompanied Gbajabiamila during the discussions.
Other issues raised by the NLC and TUC leaders included tax rebates for low-income earners, the temporary removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on diesel for six months, and the provision of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and buses within the next two months.
The meeting, which began at approximately 3:25 pm, concluded at around 7:15 pm and is set to reconvene today at 4 pm. Labor leaders are also scheduled to hold a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting today to brief members on the government’s offers and determine their next course of action.