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Why we can't grant Labour's N494,000 minimum wage demand - FG

Mohammed Idris

Information and National Orientation Minister, Mohammed Idris

By Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja

The Nigerian government has said the demand of the labour unions for the increase of the national minimum wage from N30,000 to N494,000 will jack up the total wages of federal workers alone to about N9.5 trillion yearly.

The humongous monthly bill is capable of destabilizing the economy and jeopardizing the welfare of over 200 million Nigerians, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris told journalists in Abuja on Saturday.

The Minister stated this in Abuja in response to the threat by the organized labour to embark on strike if their demands were not met.

Idris noted that the offer of N60,000 minimum wage by the Federal Government, which translates to a 100% increase on the existing minimum wage of 2019, has been accepted by the organized private sector, which is a member of the tripartite committee of the negotiations team.

“The Federal Government’s New Minimum Wage proposal amounts to a 100% increase on the existing minimum wage 2019. Labour, however, wanted N494,000, which would increase by 1,547% on the existing wage.

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“The sum of N494,000 national minimum wage which Labour is seeking would cumulatively amount to the sum N9.5 trillion bill to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“Nigerians need to understand that whereas the FG is desirous of ample remuneration for Nigerian workers, what is most critical is that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu will not encourage any action that could lead to massive job loss, especially in the private sector, who may not be able to pay the wage demanded by the Organised Labour,” he said.

The Minister said even though Labour is keen on the take-home pay of about 1.2 million workers, the Federal Government is concerned with the welfare of over 200 million Nigerians based on its Guiding Principle of Affordability, Sustainability, and the overall health of the nation’s economy.

Idris appealed to the Organised Labour to return to the negotiating table and embrace reasonable and realistic wages for their members.

He said because of the commitment of the Tinubu administration to the welfare of workers, the wage award of 35,000 for Federal workers would continue until a new national minimum wage is introduced.

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