Labour proposes N400,000 as new minimum wage for Nigerian workers

Organised Labour in Nigeria has proposed a living wage of $300 for all workers, arguing that the current minimum wage of N30,000 has been rendered inadequate by inflation and the high cost of living.

The proposal was presented at a recent meeting of the National Public Service Negotiating Council. It comes barely 24 hours after Vice President Kashim Shettima unveiled a committee for negotiations of a new national minimum wage.

Union representatives argued that the current wage is no longer sufficient to meet basic needs, with the high exchange rate and fuel subsidy removal significantly impacting purchasing power.

Chairman, Trade Union Side, Joint Meeting of the National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC), Comrade Benjamin Anthony, presented the position of organised labour on Tuesday at the 2023 meetings of the Separate and Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council held at Goshen City, Nasarawa state.

He said: “As earlier stated, the time to review our Minimum Wage has come, in doing this; we must all agree that the current Minimum Wage of N30,000 has since been eroded by the high exchange rate coupled with the abrupt removal of fuel subsidy which has translated into high cost of living in the Country.

“There is no gainsaying that the cost of a bag of rice is far more than the so-called Minimum Wage, and to worsen the situation, the Government is not prompt in the payment of the collectively and freely agreed N35,000 Wage award.

“In light of the above, Labour has proposed a Living Wage of $300 for Nigerian Workers. This is due to the fall in the value of our currency, today if you carry N100,000 to the market you will come back with a leather bag of items.

“We call on Government to immediately pay the arrears of the N35,000 wage award along with the current and expedited action on the process of getting a new living wage to bring succour to the working class people,” he added.

Currently, with the official exchange rate of N1,482, the new minimum wage would amount to N444,600 per month for the lowest-paid worker in Nigeria, based on yesterday’s exchange rate of the naira against the dollar on Tuesday, January 30, 2024.

Anthony, who was represented by the Secretary of the union, Comrade Boma Mohammed, expressed concern over the non-remittance of third-party deductions, such as cooperative and union dues, causing operational challenges for these organisations. This situation, he said, has led to difficulties in paying staff salaries, pensions, and insurance schemes. He urged the government to promptly release and disburse these funds to alleviate the hardships faced by affected workers.

Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, in response, said there is need for dialogue between organized labor and the government to foster peace and stability, ultimately enhancing productivity in implementing government policies. She commended the positive outcomes of previous engagements and highlighted the theme of the current council meetings, focusing on “Digitalization as an effective and efficient tool for service delivery in the Public Service” to improve performance in the workplace.