Labour Refutes Tinubu’s Minimum Wage Agreement Claims

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The Organised Labour has dismissed President Bola Tinubu’s claims that an agreement had been reached on new national minimum wages, refuting the president’s remarks in his Democracy Day broadcast.

Contrary to President Tinubu’s claims, the Organised Labour stated that no agreement had been reached on the new national minimum wage by the Tripartite Committee, as negotiations had ended on June 7 without any conclusive resolution.

The Tripartite Committee had concluded its negotiations without reaching a consensus on the new national minimum wage. The committee had, however, arrived at two figures—N250, 000 from the Organised Labour and N62,000 from the government and the Organised Private Sector—that were meant to be submitted to the President.

In response, the Federal Government has called on labour to consider a more realistic minimum wage, acknowledging that the desired relief for Nigerian workers may not solely be found in increased wages.

In a sharp rebuke of the president’s announcement, the acting President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Prince Adewale Adeyanju, categorically rejected the notion of a wage agreement having been reached. Adeyanju went on to assert that any reports to the contrary were not only fabricated but would also be firmly rejected by the labour movement.

Prince Adewale Adeyanju

According to Adeyanju “The NLC attentively listened to the Democracy Day presidential address delivered by Senator Bola Tinubu, especially concerning the ongoing National Minimum Wage negotiations. While the President may have accurately recounted parts of our democratic journey’s history, it is evident that he has been misinformed regarding the outcome of the wage negotiation process.

“We appreciate the President’s commitment to those fine democratic ideals, which allowed the work of the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Negotiation Committee to proceed unhindered despite some hiccups. However, we had expected Mr President to have used this understanding as one of those who were in the vanguard of the struggle with us around the nation to rescue Nigeria from the hands of the military to harmonise the two figures submitted to him by the Tripartite Committee in favour of workers and masses. It would have been a fitting Democracy Day gift.

“The NLC would have expected that the advisers of the President would have told him that we neither reached any agreement with the Federal Government and the employers on the base figure for a National Minimum Wage nor on its other components. Our demand remains N250,000 and we have not been given any compelling reasons to change this position, which we consider a great concession by Nigerian workers during the tripartite negotiation process.

“We are, therefore, surprised at the submission of Mr. President over a supposed agreement. We believe that he may have been misled into believing that there was an agreement with the NLC and the Trade Union Congress, TUC. There was none and we must let the President, Nigerians and other national stakeholders understand this immediately to avoid a mix-up in the ongoing conversation around the national minimum wage. We have also not seen a copy of the document submitted to him and will not accept any doctored document.

“However, we want to reaffirm our belief that the President on whose table the Tripartite Committee’s report presently resides would prepare an Executive Bill, which content will reflect the true demand of Nigerian workers. We think that this is an opportunity for him to demonstrate his love for Nigerian workers and the masses by shunning the pieces of advice that may be coming from those whose intentions are continuously focused on hurting the poor and struggling workers of Nigeria. Mr President should not allow these individuals and groups to sabotage his promise of lifting Nigerian workers out of poverty.

“President’s advisers did not tell him the truth that the leaders of the trade unions were intimidated and harassed. It is, therefore, important that Mr President understands that we were threatened severally by his operatives perhaps without his consent.

“Series of media propaganda calculated to intimidate and harass us were, and, are still being waged against the trade unions by senior officials of this government. Fully armed soldiers surrounded us while we were in a negotiation with the government and despite denials, recent statements by senior officials of the government reaffirmed our fears contrary to the assurances by the government. “However, we remain assured that the President’s democratic credentials will come to the fore in favour of Nigerian workers and masses.

“It is also important that Mr. President should know that most of his officers are working round the clock to set up the leadership of Congress and the trade unions. We never agreed on a 5-year duration of the minimum wage Act though we acknowledge that the President mentioned 5 years or less.

“We also agreed that inflation should be pegged at a level for a certain amount to be agreed as minimum wage. This is to bring clarity to what the report should contain.”

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