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NLC Responds to President’s Democracy Day Speech, Says No Agreement on New Minimum Wage

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has responded to President Bola Tinubu’s Democracy Day speech, where he assured the workforce of a new minimum wage, indicating that no agreement has yet been reached on this matter.

Comrade Prince Adewale Adeyanju, Acting President of the NLC, addressed the issue on behalf of the union, expressing that while the President accurately recounted parts of Nigeria’s democratic journey, he seems to have been misinformed about the outcome of the wage negotiation process.

Adeyanju highlighted that the NLC expected President Tinubu to harmonize the two figures submitted by the Tripartite Committee in favor of the workers, viewing it as a fitting Democracy Day gift.

Quoting the President, Adeyanju recounted: “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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Adeyanju acknowledged the President’s commitment to democratic ideals and the smooth operation of the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Negotiation Committee. However, he clarified that no agreement had been reached with the federal government and employers on the base figure for a new National Minimum Wage. The NLC’s demand remains N250,000, and no compelling reasons have been provided to change this position.

The Acting NLC President expressed surprise at the President’s assertion of a supposed agreement and emphasized the need to correct this misunderstanding to avoid confusion. He asserted that the union had not seen a copy of the document submitted to the President and would not accept any altered document.

Adeyanju reaffirmed the NLC’s belief in the President’s commitment to reflecting the true demands of Nigerian workers in the Executive Bill. He urged the President to resist advice from individuals focused on harming the poor and struggling workers of Nigeria, cautioning against those who might sabotage his promise of lifting Nigerian workers out of poverty.

Furthermore, Adeyanju pointed out that trade union leaders faced intimidation and harassment, which contradicts the President’s statement. He called for the President to be aware of the actions of his officers, who might be attempting to undermine the leadership of the congress and trade unions.

He clarified that no agreement had been made regarding the 5-year duration of the minimum wage Act, though the President mentioned a period of five years or less. The NLC also agreed that inflation should be pegged at a level corresponding to an agreed minimum wage to ensure clarity in the report.

The NLC reiterated that Nigerian workers would not accept a national minimum wage that equates to a starvation wage and called for justice, equity, and fairness. Adeyanju urged the President to demonstrate his commitment to a living wage for Nigerian workers, as promised, and to build a democratic nation based on equity and prosperity for all citizens.