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Labour declares indefinite strike over failure to agree on new minimum wage

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The organised labour comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has said it would commence an indefinite strike on Monday, June 3, following the failure to reach agreement on a new national minimum wage and the non reversal in the hike of electricity tariff by the federal government.

Presidents of the labour unions, Joe Ajaero and Festus Osifo addressed a joint press conference following the meeting with the tripartite committee on Friday.

The two labour centres said the strike would commence by midnight of June 2, 2024.

The unions urged its affiliates and state

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Councils, civil society organisations, market men and women and the general populace

to prepare for a decisive action.

Osifo said the government and organised private sector (OPS) maintained the N60, 000 they presented at Tuesday’s meeting.

The government added N3, 000 to its initial offer of N57, 000 proposed last week, taking the total figure to N60, 000.

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At the meeting, labour again lowered its demand by removing N3, 000 from the N497, 000 it proposed last week.

It is now asking the government to pay public sector workers N494, 000 as minimum wage.

The tripartite committee has been locked in talks over a new minimum wage since the committee was inaugurated in January this year.

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To fast track the negotiation process, the NLC and TUC) on May Day gave the committee till the end of the month to wrap up talks on a new national minimum wage.

That ultimatum expired on Friday night without an agreement.

Speaking during the press conference, Osifo said: “We shall be commencing an indefinite strike effective from Sunday midnight of June 2, 2024 and this strike will be indefinite and it will continue until we have a new minimum wage and until the government is serious.

“We are united on this because we believe this is the way forward. We believe, as we have done over the years, to consistently stand with the working class of Nigeria because they have been battered since May 29, 2023 till date.”

In a joint address, labour said: “The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) express grave concern and disappointment over the Federal Governments failure to conclude and pass into Law a new National Minimum Wage Actand reverse the vexatious hike in electricity tariff to N65/kwh.

“Today’s meeting further demonstrated the unseriousness and apparent contempt with which the Nigerian state holds the demands of Nigerian workers and people. No Governor was present and Ministers absent except the Minister of state for Labour and Employment who doubles as a conciliator. There was none present on the side of the government with appropriate authority to commit them to any outcome; in essence, government abandoned the meeting. We consider this disdainful and shows lack of commitment to a successful National Minimum Wage negotiation exercise.

“You will all recall that during the last May Day celebration on the 1st of May2024, we

issued a clear ultimatum to the Federal Government, demanding the conclusion of this critical exercise by the end of the month. However, there has been no significant progress or commitment from the government towards meeting this demand.

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“We also demanded a reversal of the last hike in electricity tariff to N225/kwh back to N65/kwh and stoppage of the apartheid categorisation of consumersinto Bands. We

carried out a nationwide oneday proteston the 13thday of May 2024giving the government until the last day of this month to take action but the government has not entirely shown any positive responsedespite the national outrage at this insensitive hike. Nigerian workers, who are the backbone of our nation’s economy, deserve fair and decent wages that reflect the current economic realities. It is disheartening that despite our repeated calls and the clear ultimatum issued, the government continues to neglect

“It continues to remain our belief that the people ought to be the only reason for governance and nothing else.

Government must therefore seek the welfare of the people at all times and refusal to put the people first compels all patriots to take the right step in assisting the government govern well. The hike in electricity tariff impoverishes furtherthe already suffering people and denies them the right to decent living. Instead

of taking remedial action or engaging in a meaningful dialogue,Nigerians were visited with a barrage of the usual propaganda.

“In light of this persistent inaction, we, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), hereby issue a notice of commencement of an indefinite nationwide strike to the Federal Government. We reiterate that since the National Minimum Wage negotiation exercise has not been concluded and the agreed wage

passed into law; the hike in electricity tariff not reversed and categorisation of

consumers into Bands not stopped as demanded; Nigerian workers are compelled by these failures to embark on an indefinite nationwide industrial action beginning on Monday, the 3rd of June, 2024 to press home our demands.

“The NLC and TUC are united in this cause, and we call on all our affiliates and state Councils, Civil Society Organisations, market men and women and the general populace

to prepare for a decisive action. We cannot and will not accept any further delays or excuses. The welfare of Nigerian workers and people is non-negotiable, and we are ready

to take all necessary steps to ensure that their rights are protected and their voices heard.

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“We regret the inconveniences this refusal ofthe federal government to heed our demands may cause all of us but we assure you of our determination to pursue this cause to its conclusion.”

President Bola Tinubu on May Day promised to pay workers a living wage.

President Tinubu, through the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, on January 30, 2024 inaugurated the 37-member tripartite committee to come up with a new minimum wage.

With its membership cutting across federal, and state governments, the private sector, and organised labour, the panel is to recommend a new national minimum wage for the country.

Shettima, during the committee’s inauguration, urged the members to “speedily” arrive at a resolution and submit their reports early.

“This timely submission is crucial to ensure the emergence of a new minimum wage,” Shettima said.

He also urged collective bargaining in good faith, emphasising contract adherence and encouraging consultations outside the committee.

The 37-man committee is chaired by the former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Goni Aji.

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