Joe Ajaero, the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress, has expressed concern that if the current inflation persists without reduction, organized labor may advocate for a revised minimum wage of N1 million for the Nigerian workforce.
As a result of the elimination of petroleum subsidies and other policies, the cost of living has risen significantly since President Bola Tinubu took office, according to Ajaero, which will have an impact on the demand for organized labor.
This was stated by the NLC president on Sunday evening during an interview with Arise News.
“This N1 million may be useful if the Nigerian naira continues to depreciate in value and if inflation persists unchecked,” he continued, “because labor demand is similarly dependent on societal developments.”
“At the time we were considering N200,000 (as the minimum wage), the exchange rate was approximately N800/N900 per dollar,” you will recall. At present, the exchange rate stands at approximately N1,400, if not higher.
“The aforementioned concerns are the determinants of demand, and their impact on the cost of living is equivalent.” Furthermore, we maintain our position that our demand will be determined by the cost of living index. Today, you will concur with me that even a sack of rice is selling for at least N60,000 to N70,000.
“A bag of locally grown corn costs at least N56,000.” As food becomes increasingly unaffordable, shall we now receive a minimum wage that is insufficient to cover transportation costs for even a single week?
"These issues must be considered, as they will dictate the level of dedication that the Federal Government places on this negotiation. They desire to provide us with more than just a minimum wage.
"As of April, the previous minimum wage will expire. Typically, in order to initiate negotiations, the Federal Government would have established a committee six months prior to that date. However, the committee was not inaugurated until recently, and it has yet to convene.
"It appears that we will be able to reach an agreement on a figure within the next two months, but I am skeptical as to how those figures will be arrived at… particularly when you consider the committee members that the Federal Government appointed.
“They examined governors who fail to pay even the current minimum wage, as well as a minister of budget who failed to implement his minimum wage during his time as governor.”
“Some of us have not seen a bright future for the work of this new minimum wage committee if these individuals continue to serve on the government team regarding minimum wage.”
The NLC and the Trade Union Congress both served the Federal Government with a 14-day strike notice on Thursday of last week, expressing their discontent with the agency’s failure to execute a 16-point agreement that was signed in October 2023.
The objective of this agreement was to mitigate the distress brought about by the devaluation of the naira and the increase in petrol prices, both of which have contributed to inflation and hardships.
The labor unions demanded that the government meet its responsibilities within the fourteen-day timeframe that commenced on Friday, February 9, 2024.