Government and organised labour still unable to reach agreement on national minimum wage

NEGOTIATORS looking to resolve the intractable matter of a new Nigerian minimum wage have once more been unable to reach an agreement with organised labour asking for a monthly sum of N250,000 ($170) and the federal government offering N62,000 ($42).


Over recent months, Nigeria's National Minimum Wage Committee has been working on negotiations regarding a new rate to reflect current economic realities. Nigeria's current minimum wage is wholly inadequate, especially in the face of the hyper-inflation tearing the country apart, with labour unions asking for an increment that will guarantee workers are paid a living wage.


Earlier this week, the governors of Nigeria's 36 states under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF),rejected a proposed N60,000 minimum wage for Nigerian workers. NGF spokesman Halimah Salihu Ahmed, said that the governors believed that the proposed minimum wage is too high and not sustainable.


This could even put the NGF on a collision course with Abuja as the federal government negotiating team raised its offer to N62,000 per month. However, this has been rejected by the trade unions who have insisted the very minimum they will accept is N250,000, having backed down from their earlier request of N494,000.


It appears, however, that Nigeria's organised private sector is backing the government’s offer of N62,000 per month. Last Tuesday, organised labour comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress suspended their strike for five days to allow for negotiations and it is now unclear if the industrial action will resume next week following the failure to reach an agreement.