NLC Pushes for Fair Minimum Wage in Upcoming Review  - The Top Society

NLC Pushes for Fair Minimum Wage in Upcoming Review 

TOPSOCIETYNG

Joe Ajaero, the leader of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), expressed the organization’s commitment to negotiating a national minimum wage that aligns with the current cost of living. Ajaero emphasized the need for a living wage that not only addresses the cost of living but also allows for savings by workers.

Speaking at the 2023 harmattan school opening in Abuja, themed “Building Trade Union Skills for Policy Engagement,” the NLC president highlighted the upcoming review of the national minimum wage, initially signed into law in 2019 by former President Muhammadu Buhari.

The organized Labour, governors, and the private sector are anticipated to collaborate in determining a new minimum wage to replace the existing N30,000.

Ajaero, represented by NLC Deputy President Benjamin Anthony, stated: “It has become very necessary for governments at all levels to recognise that life and living conditions are exceedingly difficult, especially for working people in both the formal and informal sectors of the economy.

“The removal of subsidy on petroleum products has further exacerbated the challenges faced by working people, unleashing severe pain and contributing to galloping inflation and increasing inequality and poverty. 

“We must reckon that a well-motivated and well-remunerated workforce has a positive impact on productivity and national development. 

“As we anticipate the commencement of negotiations for the national minimum wage in 2024, we seek the understanding of all stakeholders to ensure that we use this opportunity to arrive at a minimum wage commensurate with the prevailing cost of living. 

“The ultimate goal, though, is to establish a living wage that covers the cost of living and make allowance for some savings by the workers. 

“Since the adoption of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in the mid-1980s and subsequent wholesale adoption of neoliberal economy framework, there has been a sustained disruption of the social pillars of society through the pullback of public spending on the provision of social services. 

“These austerity measures have significantly impacted on the quality of life of workers, peasants and the poor, thus creating an urgent need for collaboration with broad segment of the society to form a formidable force for sustained policy engagement with the governments at all levels.”

Ajaero underlined that addressing labor concerns in Imo State, including resolving issues related to ‘ghost workers,’ settling outstanding salaries and pensions, and reinstating victimized workers, would alleviate the challenges faced by NLC members.

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He added:

“In the face of adversity and brutality encountered while advocating for the rights of workers to earn their legitimate income and benefits, our resolve remains unwavering. 

“We are motivated to continue our efforts towards achieving decent work and improving working conditions in the formal and informal sectors of the economy. 

“The recent assault on workers and their leaders in Imo State poses a grave threat to freedom of association and collective bargaining as enshrined in Section 40 of the 1999 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and the ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining, and should unequivocally be condemned by all people of goodwill. 

“The only thing that can assuage our pains is for the Imo State Government to address all Labour issues and return the so called ‘ghost workers’ to their jobs, pay all outstanding salaries and pensions and call back all victimised workers to their jobs.” 

Vanessa Phala, Director of the International Labour Organization (ILO), affirmed the crucial role of trade unions in advocating for workers’ rights, improving working conditions, and advancing social and economic justice in Nigeria and beyond.

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She said:

“The world of work is undergoing rapid changes, driven by technological advances, climate change, globalisation, and shifting social and economic trends. These changes are affecting workers and trade unions, posing new challenges and opportunities for collective action and advocacy. 

“Trade unions remain critical stakeholders in promoting workers’ rights, improving working conditions, and advancing social and economic justice. 

“Against this context, there is no better time than now for a serious and strategic reflection on the role that organised Labour execute in policy engagement and dialogue.” 

She said the ILO would continue to place particular emphasis on

“strengthening the institutional capacity of employers’ and workers’ organisations to develop forward-looking solutions to sustain and improve operations to reinforce their representative, leadership, and advocacy roles, while renewing membership strategies, service provision and delivery mechanisms, and enhancing policy advocacy and influence.”

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