Federal Government Declares Strike Over Minimum Wage Not in Nigeria’s Best Interest

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Federal Government Declares Strike Over Minimum Wage Not in Nigeria's Best Interest

Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, expressed concerns on Friday regarding the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) declaring a nationwide strike. She argued that this move was not in the country’s or its citizens’ best interest.

Onyejeocha cautioned that striking during ongoing negotiations would exacerbate Nigeria’s economic challenges and worsen the plight of millions struggling to make a living. In a statement released by her Special Adviser on Media, Emameh Gabriel, she emphasized the government’s dedication and goodwill in its negotiations with organized labor.

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“The government has consistently shown commitment and goodwill throughout the negotiations with organized labor,” she stated. She noted that the government’s proposals were thoughtfully designed to reflect the country’s economic realities and included innovative solutions.

These proposals include increasing the federal workers’ minimum wage to N60,000, introducing Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses, and enhancing financial access for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). Furthermore, the government has pledged investments in strategic sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, education, and healthcare.

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Onyejeocha warned that any new minimum wage must not result in widespread job losses, especially in the Organized Private Sector, a significant employer in the country. “This sector is crucial to the country’s economic growth and stability,” she said. The government aims to balance workers’ needs with the country’s economic realities, ensuring that any agreement reached is sustainable and beneficial for both parties.

The Minister expressed disappointment over organized labor’s abrupt exit from Friday’s negotiations despite the government’s flexibility in rescheduling the meeting to expedite discussions. The labor unions demanded a 1,547% wage increase, far beyond the government’s proposed 100% increase and additional incentives.

“Labour unions’ demands are unrealistic, given the country’s current economic position,” Onyejeocha stated. She highlighted the government’s fiscal constraints and the need for sustainable economic growth, contrasting these with the labor unions’ demands, which she described as disconnected from economic realities.

She urged the unions to reconsider their decision and engage in constructive dialogue to find a solution that benefits everyone. “A strike will disproportionately harm the most vulnerable segments of our society,” she warned. Onyejeocha called on organized labor to respect the principles of social dialogue and continue engaging in good faith to reach a mutually beneficial resolution.

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