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Presidency reacts to Labour’s N497k new minimum wage proposal

Presidency reacts to Labour’s N497k new minimum wage proposal

The presidency has reacted to the N497,000 recently proposed by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) as the new minimum wage for workers.

Presidential aide, Bayo Onanuga, said the N497,000 minimum wage proposal is unrealistic adding that labour leaders in the country should be serious with its demand.

Onanuga noted that what should be paramount to arriving at the new minimum wage by the Tripartite Committee should be the availability of resources to pay the new agreed sum.

The presidency also decried the over-bloated civil service structure at both the state and federal levels.

“Well, it’s very simple. I think the demand is outrageous. If you ask Mr. Ajaero or our brother who is the President of the TUC, Osifo how much do they pay their drivers or their lowest paid workers, how much do they pay their cleaners, can they pay them N500,000, can they pay them N615,000. It’s unrealistic,” Onanuga told Vanguard.

He continued: “We have bloated civil service at all levels. Government is keeping them as a social service, because it doesn’t have other jobs for them.

“The  last time someone  gave the census of the federal civil servants, they are said to be about 50,000. I am not talking about the police, army or those employed by some agencies. I am talking about  the hardcore civil servants.

“If you visit the Federal Secretariat, you will see them milling round.

“You do not expect much productivity from them. Yet these are people Ajaero wants the Federal Government to pay N615,000.

“At the moment, what government is  spending  on recurrent expenditure, is too  high . I don’t foresee any government either the federal, state or local government council spending spending all its money just to pay workers.

“There are still people who are self employed, people who are doing their own businesses  to whom government has responsibility to do roads, provide healthcare, provide education and others. So, Labour should be realistic.

“From what I have seen so far, they are unserious, unrealistic with their outlandish demand. I know that what the President has been promising is not just a minimum wage but a living wage.

“It’s too early now to say this is what government will agree to. But I think they are still negotiating. In the  coming weeks, they will agree on a figure and then announce it to the Nigerian people. 

“Then we have  to be worried whether the states have the earning power to pay whatever the minimum wage agreed on because some states found it difficult to pay the old minimum wage of N30,000.

“I  read a few days ago  that Zamfara state government which failed to pay the N30,000 current minimum wage announced that they will pay. If some states have not paid minimum wage announced by President Muhammadu Buhari five years ago, it is an indication that the states will also fail the new minimum wage. So labour needs to be realistic.

“In my own view, I think what labour should be talking about is how to make affordable housing available, how to reduce transport cost, how to make food cheap and affordable to our people because by the time you spend less money on food, less money on transport, education and other things, the earning power will improve. I don’t believe in quantum of money, it will not solve the problem.

 

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