The demand for a N1 million minimum wage by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has sparked debate, with the private sector and several states expressing skepticism over its feasibility.
NLC President, Joe Ajaero, suggested during an interview on Arise television that the union might propose a N1 million minimum wage during negotiations if the value of the naira continued to decline.
In response, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Idris Mohammed, emphasized the need for a balanced decision considering national interests and available resources.
The escalating costs of goods and services, coupled with currency devaluation due to the forex crisis, have amplified concerns. The NLC and Trade Union Congress had initially proposed a N200,000 minimum wage, but Ajaero argued that rising food prices and inflation rendered this figure unrealistic.
Ajaero highlighted the current cost of living, citing exorbitant prices for basic commodities like rice and corn. He emphasized the necessity for a wage that covers transportation expenses for at least a week.
Moreover, Ajaero criticized the Federal Government for failing to fulfill its promises regarding previous wage agreements, including the delayed implementation of the N35,000 wage award.
He lamented the lack of progress in constituting the minimum wage committee, noting the impending expiration of the existing minimum wage by April.
However, various states and the private sector have questioned the viability of the N1 million proposal. Ekiti State Commissioner for Information, Taiwo Olatunbosun, emphasized the importance of realistic negotiations given the state’s limited resources.
Similarly, Sokoto and Benue State governments urged labour unions to consider practical factors in their demands, emphasizing the need for realism.
The Nigeria Employers Consultative Association and Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture expressed willingness to review the proposal but stressed the importance of economic considerations.
While acknowledging workers’ challenges, they emphasized the necessity of establishing a wage structure based on economic realities.
Moving forward, stakeholders call for constructive dialogue and patient negotiations to ensure a fair and sustainable wage policy that aligns with the nation’s economic circumstances.