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NLC Insists On N56,000 Minimum Wage

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Sunday, May 1st, 2016
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The Nigeria Labour Congress has insisted on N56,000 as the minimum wage in the country, arguing that lawmakers spend more than that to clean their shoes every month.

The NLC General Secretary, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, who stated this in an interview with Sunday PUNCH on Saturday, said the union would defend its proposal.

Responding to a claim that the proposed N56,000 is not realistic in view of economic realities in the country, Ozo-Eson said, “We didn’t draw the figure from the  sky. The figure is the outcome of a systematic analysis. It is a proposal we made to Mr. President and we expect him to convene the tripartite framework that  sets  the minimum wage.

“But it would be funny if we find any statement by any member of the National Assembly that is unrealistic when what they are taking is unrealistic. Even this figure that we are proposing, N56, 000, may not be up to what they use to clean their shoes in a month.

“So, despite the issue of whether it is realistic or not, we are ready to defend the figures and show how we came about it. We believe it is realistic and we have placed it before the government.”

But the House of Representatives said that present economic realities would determine whether the Federal Government could meet the NLC.

It noted that when the demand was placed against the unstable price of crude oil, the country’s main revenue source, questions would be raised on the financial capacity of government to approve N56,000.

The crude oil benchmark of the N2016 budget is $38.

Oil price had crashed to far below $38 in March and took a while to begin a slow rise in recent days. At the moment, it hovers around $46, just $8 above the budgeted figure.

The NLC president, Mr. Ayuba Wabara, had in an interview with journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, disclosed that Labour had proposed a minimum wage of N56, 000 to the Federal Government.

Speaking with Sunday PUNCH in Abuja, the Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, observed that meeting such a demand must be placed against present economic realities.

He explained further, “However, this legitimate demand and workers’ interest have to be measured against what is practical and realisable, considering the sharp fall in oil price and government revenue.”

He added, “Government will need to sit with Labour and open up its books in a transparent manner for Labour to see whether or not, by the most ingenious financial engineering, the demand can be met.

“I believe when this is done, an amicable settlement can be reached.

“I will support whatever increase if the money is available and I know Labour will also tailor its demands accordingly in the event that it is patently clear that the money is not available.”

Repeated calls put across to the mobile phones of the Senate Spokesperson, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, and the Chairman, Senate Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity, Senator Nazif Sulaiman, were not responded to as of the time of filing this report. None of them also replied the text messages sent to their telephone lines on the same issue.

The Federal Government had said it would declare its stand on the workers’ demand for N56,000 minimum wage at the May Day rally today (Sunday).

The Ministry of Labour said that it would come up with government position on the proposed N56,000 Minimum Wage at the rally.

The Deputy Director, Press, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. Samuel Olowookere, told our correspondent on the telephone on Saturday to wait for the government’s position through the minister on the issue on May Day.

He said, “Come to the Eagle square tomorrow. The minister travelled but he would be there. You will get the answer tomorrow.

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