“Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Dashed as Economic Hardship Delays Nigerian Minimum Wage Talks”

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Nigerian Workers Face Prolonged Wait for New Minimum Wage as Negotiations Stall Amid Economic Hardship

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There are strong indications that workers will wait for a longer time to receive a new national minimum wage as negotiations have stalled amid excruciating economic hardship and mass suffering in the country. In fact, the delay is allegedly caused by the Federal Government.

This came as Abia, Taraba, and Zamfara states are allegedly still in breach of the 2019 National Minimum Wage Act, which fixed the minimum wage at N30,000 from the previous N18,000.

The implication of the stalled negotiations is that workers’ hopes for a pay rise ahead of the 2024 May Day scheduled for Wednesday have been dashed.

Meeting
Sunday Vanguard’s checks revealed that the last meeting of the Tripartite Committee on the New National Minimum Wage, TCNMW, tasked with fixing the new wage, was held in the first week of April where stakeholders received the reports of the public hearings across the six geographical zones held on Thursday, March 7, 2024.

It was, however, gathered that the subcommittees have been meeting on other issues as directed by the TCNMW.

According to findings, at the first week of April meeting, members of the committee, that is, the government, labor, and private sector employers, were directed to submit their written proposals to the National Salaries, Income, and Wages Commission, NSIWC, which serves as the secretariat to the TCNMW.

Sources informed that while Organized Labor, comprising Nigeria Labor Congress, NLC, and its Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, counterpart, has sent in its demand of N615,000 minimum wages, the Organized Private Sector, OPS, has equally sent in its proposal.

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However, it could not be confirmed if the government has sent in its proposal.

Reports
Sunday Vanguard gathered that after the TCNMW received the reports of the public hearings, the NSIWC fixed April 16 and 17 as meeting dates for a review of the reports and probably commence negotiations, but, unfortunately, the dates turned out to be public holidays for Sallah celebrations.

Since then, Sunday Vanguard learnt that it (NSIWC) has not fixed a new date for a meeting where the actual negotiations would start.

Blaming the government for the delay, one of the labor leaders, who is a member of the TCNMW, said until the government through the NSIWC summons a meeting, nothing could be done.

He said: “The last meeting was in the first week of April when we met to receive the reports of the zonal public hearings.
“It was essentially to collate reports from the zones. We as Organized Labor, that is, the NLC and TUC, have sent in a joint proposal or demand if you like.

“We are aware that the OPS has equally sent in its proposal. We are all waiting for the reconvening of TCNMW meeting to know what the government is putting on the table for us to begin negotiations.

“But that is not to say we have been doing nothing or we have been idle. The various subcommittees, in line with the mandate of the main committee, have been working. We have a lot to discuss and negotiate about.

“The hike in electricity tariff is now an important factor. We had sent in our demand before the increase in electricity tariff.

“To worsen matters, the increase was done without stakeholders’ inputs contrary to the enabling Act. In other words, we were not consulted as required by law.

“All these issues will determine when and how long the negotiations will last. One thing is clear, no matter how long the negotiations take, the new minimum wage will definitely take effect by April 2024. Meaning the law will be backdated to April 2024. The implication is that a new minimum wage can’t be announced on May Day.”

Speaking also, the Director-General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, NECA, Adewale Smart-Oyerinde said a new minimum wage cannot be announced on May 1.

“We have not actually started real negotiations. The last meeting we had was when we received reports of the public hearings”, he told Sunday Vanguard.

“We were asked to send our proposals to the secretariat of the committee. We have done that as an Organized Private Sector, OPS. We believe others have sent in theirs. We are waiting for the reconvening of the committee for the negotiations to start. We are ready for the negotiations.”

Data
It was gathered, however, that parties are busy collating data across states, sectors, and socioeconomic trends ahead of the commencement of negotiations.

A member of the OPS, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he foresees very robust and interesting negotiations because of the socioeconomic realities on the ground.

He said “As the socioeconomic realities affect workers, so also they affect employers. Nobody is immune to the hardships and socioeconomic realities including the recent hike in electricity tariff. So, the negotiations will be very interesting and robust.”

On his part, the immediate past President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, who spoke on the delay in concluding the minimum wage negotiations and non-implementation of the minimum wage by some state governments and private sector employers, said “The Minimum Wage Act of 2019 made clear provision on when negotiations should start and be concluded, which is six months to the


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Gbenga Samson
Gbenga Samsonhttp://ThisDayLive.com
Samson Gbenga Salau [Editorial Board Adviser] Gbenga Samuel Salau is a professional journalist with over 17 years experience in journalism, he is a graduate of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan. On completion of his youth service, he joined The Guardian as a freelance journalist and was later absorbed as a staff. While in the University, he was a campus journalist reporting for the Independence Hall and Faculty of Arts Press Clubs. As a campus journalist, he won the following awards; Independence Hall Press Best News writer; University of Ibadan Union of Campus Journalists’ Best News Reporter/Writer; First Runner-up, Reuben Abati Award for Investigative Journalism; Association of Faculty of Arts Students’ Press Best Reporter; University of Ibadan Union of Campus Journalists’ Best Political Writer; Winner, Reuben Abati Award for Investigative Journalism, and University of Ibadan Union of Campus Journalists’ Best Interviewer. He served the Association of Communication and Language Arts Students, as the Public Relation Officer, the same year he was appointed the News Editor of the Association of Faculty of Arts Students Press. The following session, he was made the General Editor, and a member of the 13-man University of Ibadan Students’ Union Transition Committee. As a reporter in The Guardian, in 2014, he won the Promasidor Quill Award Best Report on Nutrition and DAME Business Reporting category. In the 2015 edition of the Promasidor Quill Award, he won the best Report on Nutrition and Brand Advocate Categories, while in 2016, he won the NMMA Print Journalist of the Year, first runner-up Golden Pen Reporter of the Year and SERAs CSR Awards. Gbenga Salau loves traveling, reading, and listening to songs with good lyrics no matter the genre.

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