June 25, 2024

Senate Calls on Government to Maintain N35,000 Wage Award Amid Ongoing Negotiations

 

By: Emmanuel Ibitoye

 

The Nigerian Senate has urged the Federal Government to continue the payment of the N35,000 wage award to workers as negotiations on the new minimum wage remain unresolved.

 

In a recent development aimed at averting a nationwide strike, Senate President Godswill Akpabio emphasized the importance of maintaining the wage award during a closed-door meeting with the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC), and several government ministers.

 

Akpabio made an appeal for the unions to suspend their proposed industrial action, stating, “We have been making an appeal and asked the NLC and TUC to shelve the proposed strike and return to the negotiating table to resolve the issue. I appeal that the strike be suspended for negotiations to continue in the interest of Nigerians and the nation.”

 

Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, confirmed the government’s commitment to the wage award. “The position of the Government is that the Federal Government will continue to pay its workers the wage award of N35,000 that started in October 2023 until a new wage regime is instituted,” Idris stated.

 

He expressed optimism that the unions would reconsider the strike action following the extensive discussions involving the National Assembly leadership, organized labour, and the federal government delegation. “Nigeria cannot afford a strike at this moment given the challenges faced by the economy. All hands must be on deck to ensure the prosperity of the nation as strike is not the best option at this point,” Idris added.

 

The Minister further noted the financial implications of the unions’ demands, highlighting that meeting the demand for a N494,000 minimum wage would impose an additional N9.5 trillion financial burden on the country. He called on the unions to understand the government’s position and work collaboratively to find a sustainable solution.

 

President of the TUC, Festus Osifo, acknowledged the issues at hand and clarified that the decision to call off the strike lies with the union’s broader membership. “We have listened to them, and we will take the request of the National Assembly leadership to our organs because we don’t have the power to call off the strike. The power to call off strikes lies with our organs, who would sit to decide,” Osifo explained.

 

The meeting, which aimed to find a resolution to the looming strike, included high-profile attendees such as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume, Ministers of Labour and Employment Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, Finance Wale Edun, Information and National Orientation Mohammed Idris, Budget and National Planning Atiku Bagudu, and Science and Technology Uche Nnaji. Also present were the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Aliyu Abdullahi, Head of Service of the Federation Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, and President of the NLC Joe Ajaero.

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