NLC Faults Tinubu’s Democracy Day Comment, Insists On N250,000

The Acting President of NLC, Adewale Adeyanju, has in his statement rejects claims by president Tinubu on his Democracy Day speech last Wednesday in Abuja ,that an agreement has been reached on the new minimum wage

He said, NLC ,stands on the N250,000 as minimum wage ,explains that the talks held by the Tripartite Committee last Friday, 7th June 2024, on the national minimum wage resulted in two separate proposals:

The NLC stands on N250 000, while the government alongside with the Organised Private Sector, stands for N62,000 .

“Our demand still remains N250,000 (two hundred and fifty thousand Naira) only and we have not been given any compelling reasons to change this position which we consider a great concession by Nigerian workers during the tripartite negotiation process,” Adeyanju said.

The statement read in part, “we reiterate that it will be extremely difficult for Nigerian workers to accept any national minimum wage figure that approximates to a starvation Wage. We cannot be working and yet remain in abject poverty.

“The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) attentively listened to the Democracy Day Presidential address delivered by His Excellency, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, especially concerning the ongoing National Minimum Wage negotiations. While the President may have accurately recounted parts of our democratic journey’s history, it is evident that he has been misinformed regarding the outcome of the wage negotiation process.

“To quote Mr. President; “As we continue to reform the economy, I shall always listen to the people and will never turn my back on you. In this spirit, we have negotiated in good faith and with open arms with organized labour on a new national minimum wage. We shall soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of our law for the next five years or less.

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“In the face of labour’s call for a national strike, we did not seek to oppress or crack down on the workers as a dictatorial government would have done. We chose the path of cooperation over conflict. No one was arrested or threatened. Instead, the labour leadership was invited to break bread and negotiate toward a good-faith resolution.

“We appreciate the President’s commitment to those fine democratic ideals which allowed the work of the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Negotiation Committee to proceed unhindered despite some hiccups. However, we had expected Mr. President to have used this understanding as one of those who was in the vanguard of the struggle with us around the nation to rescue Nigeria from the hands of the military to harmonize the two figures submitted to him by the Tripartite Committee in favour of workers and masses. It would have been a fitting Democracy Day gift.

“The NLC would have expected that the advisers of the President would have told him that we neither reached any agreement with the federal government and the employers on the base figure for a National Minimum Wage nor on its other components.

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“We are therefore surprised at the submission of Mr. President over a supposed agreement. We believe that he may have been misled into believing that there was an agreement with the NLC and TUC. There was none and it is important that we let the President, Nigerians and other national stakeholders understand this immediately to avoid a mix up in the ongoing conversation around the national minimum wage. We have also not seen a copy of the document submitted to him and will not accept any doctored document.

“President’s advisers obviously did not tell him the truth that the leaders of the trade unions were intimidated and harassed. It is therefore important that Mr. President understands that we were threatened severally by his operatives perhaps without his consent. Series of media Propaganda calculated to intimidate and harass us were, and, are still being waged against the trade unions by senior officials of this government.

“Fully armed soldiers surrounded us while we were in a negotiation with the Government and despite denials, recent statements by senior officials of the Government reaffirmed our fears contrary to the assurances by the Government. However, we remain assured that the President’s democratic credentials will come to the fore in favour of Nigerian workers and masses.”

This response comes after President Tinubu’s address, which indicated a resolution had been achieved on the wage discussions, thereby causing confusion and discontent among the ranks of Organised Labour.

The President speaking on his plan to fix the economy so that everyone has access to economic opportunity, fair pay and compensation for his endeavour and labour, said, “In this spirit, we have negotiated in good faith and with open arms with organized labour on a new national minimum wage. We shall soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of our law for the next five years or less.

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“In the face of labour’s call for a national strike, we did not seek to oppress or crack down on the workers as a dictatorial government would have done. We chose the path of cooperation over conflict.

“No one was arrested or threatened. Instead, the labour leadership was invited to break bread and negotiate toward a good-faith resolution.

“Reasoned discussion and principled compromise are hallmarks of democracy. These themes shall continue to animate my policies and interaction with the constituent parts of our political economy.”

By Sophina Ovuike, Abuja