Minimum wage: Strike not in best interest of Nigeria – FG

According to Newsmen, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejoecha, stated on Friday that the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) calling for a nationwide strike is not in the best interest of the country and its people.

Minimum wage: Strike not in best interest of Nigeria - FG

The Minister warned that striking amidst ongoing negotiations would worsen the economic situation and increase the suffering of millions of Nigerians who are already struggling.

In a statement issued by her Special Adviser on Media, Emameh Gabriel, Onyejeocha emphasized the government’s commitment and goodwill throughout the negotiations with organized labour. She explained that the government’s proposals were carefully crafted to consider the country’s economic realities and included innovative solutions.

The proposals feature a comprehensive package with a wage increase to N60,000 for federal workers, the introduction of CNG-fueled buses, and improved financial access for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). Additionally, the government has pledged investments in sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, education, and healthcare.

The Minister cautioned that any new minimum wage must not lead to widespread job losses, especially in the Organised Private Sector, which employs the majority of the workforce.

According to her, “This sector is crucial to the country’s economic growth and stability. The government’s approach balances the needs of workers with the economic realities, aiming for a realistic and sustainable minimum wage that avoids detrimental economic consequences.”

Onyejeocha expressed disappointment that organized labour abruptly exited the negotiations on Friday, despite the government’s flexibility in rescheduling the meeting to accelerate talks.

“Labour unions demanded a 1,547% wage increase, while the government proposed a 100% increase along with various incentives for workers. These demands are unrealistic given the country’s current economic position,” she said.

She added that the government’s willingness to engage in dialogue and its flexibility in negotiations underscore its commitment to finding a mutually beneficial solution. However, labour’s inflexibility and unrealistic expectations might hinder progress, ultimately harming workers and the nation.

The Minister urged the unions to reconsider their decision and continue engaging in constructive dialogue to find a solution beneficial for all, noting that a strike would disproportionately harm the most vulnerable segments of society. She called on organized labour to respect the principles of social dialogue and engage in good faith.

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