Minimum Wage: Labour stands firm, insists on strike despite last-minute NASS talks

Following a four-hour meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly (NASS) on Sunday evening in Abuja, the Organised Labour remains resolute in its decision to commence a nationwide industrial action slated to start on Monday, June 3, 2024.

Festus Osifo, the President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), affirmed the labour unions’ stance, stating, “For now, we don’t have the power to call off the strike. Tomorrow (Monday) morning, the strike will kick off as we take their plea asking us to call off the strike to our various organs.”

The meeting between the labour leaders and the NASS leadership, including Senate President Godswill Akpabio and Speaker of the House of Representatives Tajudeen Abbas, was part of last-minute efforts by the legislators to dissuade aggrieved workers from embarking on the planned industrial action for a new minimum wage.

Describing the meeting’s objective, the National Assembly stated it was to “avert the impending industrial action,” emphasizing the severe repercussions such an action would have on the populace and the economy.

The decision of the Organised Labour follows a deadlock between the Federal Government and the unions over a new national minimum wage and the reversal of the recent electricity tariff hike.

The labour unions contend that the current minimum wage of N30,000 can no longer suffice for an average Nigerian worker’s well-being. They lamented that not all governors are adhering to the current wage award, which expired in April 2024, five years after the Minimum Wage Act of 2019 was signed by former President Muhammadu Buhari.

Labour had earlier set a May 31 deadline for the government to implement a new minimum wage. Subsequently, on May 31, the workers’ organs in the country declared a nationwide strike beginning from Monday, June 3, 2024, over the government committee’s failure to agree on a new minimum wage and reverse the electricity tariff hike.

Despite rejecting three government offers, with the latest being N60,000, both the TUC and the NLC pulled out of negotiations, insisting on N497,000 as the new minimum wage.

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