TUC insists on N250,000 benchmark as minimum wage

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) is urging for expedited negotiations on a new minimum wage in Nigeria.

Festus Osifo, TUC Secretary General, made this call on Tuesday, when he addressed the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Women Commission’s annual convention, emphasizing the urgency of the matter.

Lessons from 2019:

Osifo acknowledged the lengthy process surrounding the previous minimum wage increase. Negotiations starting in 2017 only saw a new minimum wage implemented in 2019. He assured the audience that unions were working to avoid a similar delay.

Fast-Tracking the Process:

The TUC began negotiations in January 2024 and submitted their proposed minimum wage in June. However, President Buhari opted for broader consultation with governors, local governments, and the private sector.

Negotiations Behind the Scenes:

Osifo stressed that the apparent media silence surrounding the negotiations doesn’t indicate inactivity. Instead, unions are engaged in “internal work” to ensure the new minimum wage proposal caters to “the poorest of the poor.” This behind-the-scenes work aims to present a comprehensive bill to the National Assembly soon.

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N250,000 Benchmark Remains:

He reiterated the TUC’s stance on an ideal minimum wage of N250,000, a figure he said remains their benchmark despite ongoing negotiations and consultations.

Uncertain Timeline:

While Osifo expresses optimism about a swift resolution, the timeline for a new minimum wage remains unclear. The consultation process initiated by the President could lengthen the negotiation phase.

Focus on the Vulnerable:

The TUC emphasizes their commitment to securing a minimum wage that uplifts the lives of Nigeria’s most vulnerable citizens. Their focus on internal work suggests a data-driven approach to support this goal within the proposed legislation.

His statement reads, “The minimum wage negotiations cannot be dead. The 2019 minimum wage (that has expired) took about two years to see the light of day. We started the negotiations in 2017.

“We promised you when we started in January (this year) that we will ensure this one is fast – tracked for us not to be in the conundrum that we were in 2019 which took two years.

“So where we are today, we submitted the divergent position in June, when we did that you know clearly that Mr President came out to say that he wanted to consult across board which is the governors, Local Government chairmen, organised private sector and labour, so we are doing some level of reach-out and conversations.

“So that what will be submitted to the National Assembly will actually be a minimum wage that will cater for the poorest of the poor, so for the fact that in the media we are not shouting, we are doing some level of internal work so that this bill will be submitted in earnest soon. We still insist on the N250,000 benchmark as ideal minimum wage.”

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