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No decision yet on minimum wage – NLC

febae46c joe ajaero

The Nigerian Labour Congress has distanced itself from the N500,000 being canvassed as the new minimum wage.

The NLC noted that it has yet to adopt a position on an amount to be presented to the tripartite committee on the National Minimum Wage charged with fixing a new minimum wage for workers.

President of NLC, Joe Ajaero, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with our correspondent in Yola on Saturday.

The NLC President, speaking in Yola on the sidelines of the North East Zonal Public Hearing by the Tripartite Committee on National Wages, where various stakeholders canvassed for a new minimum wage, said the N500,000 and N700,000 being proposed as the new minimum wage are unknown to the NLC.

According to him, all the figures flying around should be disregarded because the NLC as a body has yet to adopt a common presentation on the new minimum wage.

He said, “The N500K, N700K you are hearing are being collated at the level of the states. In Lagos and other places, I think they are about N700,000 while in other places they are talking about N500,000, which are inputs collated from geopolitical zones.

“But the NLC secretariat has not made any presentation, these minimum figures are what is coming from the states. When we collate them then we’ll do a central presentation based on these raw materials we are getting from states.”

He, however, explained that labour will be guided in adopting a new minimum wage based on economic parameters which takes into account the current cost of living at the states as well as the exchange rate of the naira to the dollar.

“It (minimum wage) has to be relative to cost of living in those states. You will agree with me that rent here is not as that in Abuja, and not the same thing as Lagos. So relatively speaking you won’t have a straight jacket like presentations by Labour in all the states, ” Ajaero added while noting a lot depended on the management of the economy.

He said the new minimum wage to be determined, if at all it will be of any tangible benefit, will depend on how well the managers of the economy will manage the economy by tackling all the underlying factors responsible for driving inflation so that the wage that workers would have at the end of the day would be stable.

Ajaero said, “I don’t see why paying $300 relatively speaking will now create inflation that will cripple the businesses.

“Our currencies should be pegged in such a way that it gains its value. Until you do such, you don’t keep holding only one factor of production- which is labour down.

“Those industrialists whatever they are producing the price has gone up by over 500%.

“The worker whatever he’s buying whether food stuff and transportation the price has equally gone up in the same vein.

“All the small scale business people that sell Garri, toothpaste and vegetable will get share of it. The wage is one way you circulate prosperity. So i don’t think it will worsen it.”

It was revealed at the North East Zonal Public Hearing on the National Minimum Wage, conducted by the tripartite committee on National Minimum wage where various stakeholders canvassed for a new minimum wage, that the existing minimum wage will be expiring on April 17 2024.

The NLC President has also made clear that workers will have to be paid the arrears if the country fails to get a New Minimum wage before the deadline date, because whatever increment results at the end of the day, labour will be asking for arrears.

Ajaero said, “The existing minimum wage will be expiring by 17th April, 2024. If they didn’t do what they are saying then we’ll be asking for arrears. The issue of renegotiation is critical because the minimum wage is a benchmark, that is the minimum any worker should earn.”

NMA chairman of Adamawa State, Dr. Solomon Bulus,  has warned of more untimely deaths resulting from hardship, adding that the prevalence of High Blood Pressure now stood at 30% for the population.

He said the Nigerian Medical and Dental Council, backed the implementation of N500,000 new minimum wage because it will drive down the hardship being experienced nationally.

Bulus who stated this in his presentation at the North East Zonal Public hearing on the national minimum, conducted by the tripartite committee on National Minimum wage said, ” The NMA wants to support the 500,000 new minimum wage in the country. The prevalence of HBP is 30% when we have that minimum wage it will not push us into the problem that we have today.