Strike: Return to negotiation table, FG appeals to organised labour

The federal government has again appealed to organised labour to return to the negotiation table with the tripartite committee that has been established to fashion out a new and realistic minimum wage for the Nigerian workers.

The Minister of Information and National Orientation Alhaji Mohammed Idris who stated this Monday while addressing a press conference in Abuja, said the government is desirous of a peaceful outcome from the negotiation.

“As Government, we are desirous of a peaceful outcome, and we will do everything to make this happen. Yesterday, the leadership of the National Assembly met with the Unions. Today, we have offered another invitation to the Unions, to meet with us and continue our discussions.

“We will continue to engage, and continue to make ourselves very available in the context of these negotiations on behalf of the Nigerian people

“Let me make it clear that we are not opponents on this negotiating table. We are united by the fact that we want the best for the Federal Republic of Nigeria and for all 200 million citizens of the country.

“We have a responsibility to strike a measured and realistic balance, in this effort to arrive at a new minimum wage for Nigerians,” he said.

The minister, while appealing to organised labour to be considerate, said the N494,000 proposal by labour is an increase of 1,547 percent on the existing wage.

“The minimum wage is not only for public sector workers. It will be binding on the private sector as well. This reality must be factored into the negotiations.

“As I have explained earlier, Labour’s current proposal of N494,000 is an increase of 1,547 percent on the existing wage, and translates into an annual wage bill of 9.5 Trillion Naira for the federal government of Nigeria alone.

“This is apart from its cost implications for subnational governments and private sector employees. Such a wage bill would cripple the Nigerian economy, by leading to massive job losses especially in the private sector,” he said.

Idris noted that the National Consumer Credit Scheme and the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) are additional significant demonstrations of a determination of the federal government to bring relief to the people of Nigeria.

“We want the Labour Unions to understand that the relief that Nigerians are expecting, and that they fully deserve, will not come only in the form of increased wages. It will also come as efforts to reduce the cost of living, and to ensure that more money stays in the pockets of Nigerians.

“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is firmly committed to doing what is right, reasonable and sustainable regarding these minimum wage negotiations. We call on the Labour Unions to reciprocate this gesture in the interest of the nation,” he said.