How we landed at N200,000 as the minimum wage: NLC President

    The Organized Labor delayed its planned indefinite strike on Monday due to disagreements with the administration about palliatives to lessen the impact of the policy and the termination of the gasoline subsidy. Some Nigerians were outraged by the strike stoppage and claimed that labor had sold out to the Tinubu administration.

    Comrade Joe Ajaero, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), disputes the criticism in this interview and claims that 90% of the demands made by Labor were met during the negotiations that preceded the suspension of the strike. Ajaero also describes how the NLC came to the conclusion that N200,000 should be the new minimum wage, which will be negotiated the following year. He discusses many national topics. Excerpts:

    How we landed
    nlc chairman

    How did you and the Federal Government come to an agreement and call off the indefinite strike?

    The goal of every negotiation is to get at an enforceable, workable agreement. Therefore, the goal of discussions from the outset is always an agreement, barring a deadlock. We had demands before we started, but those requests don’t have to be completely complied with. I am aware that we were able to satisfy 90% of our criteria, so the only option left to us was to sign a contract. Agreements that are negotiated but not signed are unfinished. That was it, then.

    Describe what you mean when you say you’ve met up to 90% of your demands.

    We asked for CNG as a substitute for gasoline, and we have plans to make it a reality because it won’t happen tomorrow or next week. Plans were made as a result, and we urged that the refineries operate.

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    We are aware that the refineries won’t be operating the following day, and arrangements were being made for us to go visit the Port-Harcourt refinery to see what is occurring there in order to confirm that it will be finished and operational by December. When we requested a wage award, the President offered the least-paid worker in Nigeria N25,000 for barely six months. We declined, and instead received compensation for every employee across the board.

    We succeeded in getting the six-month restriction eliminated, and we also increased the N25,000 that the president had previously announced to N35,000. That issue has surpassed nearly all others and what you could consider to be 100%.

    The other one, involving meddling with the National Union of Road Transport Workers, is in the works. We started a conversation on the subject of employees at tertiary institutions. Then, for the first time ever, we just temporarily halted our strike for 30 days. Therefore, when a strike is put on hold for that time so that you can watch and evaluate it, you know that it’s still in development.

    Then the provisions of this entire arrangement were registered in court as a settlement agreement. I won’t discuss the legalities of any infringement of it, but the agreement’s drafters’ intentions were crystal obvious in this regard.

    You had referred to the offerings from the government as promissory notes. How confident are you that a specific goal will be met?

    They are promissory note in the sense that they are not converted to Naira and Kobo or to action immediately. Even as at today, as I am talking with you, it remains promissory note but there is time- frame attached to them now and there is time-frame attached to our MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) for which these things are supposed to take effect. You can see that this action is suspended for one month; now those are the signs to show you that it was not embraced fully, it was embraced with some elements of suspicion that it may or may not be completed by the end of 30 days, that was it.

    How we landed
    nlc chairman

    Yes, it remains promissory note as we talk but some elements of benefit of doubt have to come in, but there was no way you will compel them to pay that wage award that day or the following day, it’s not possible, you have to look at the practical aspect of it.

    Some opponents said that the labor movement’s leadership betrayed its members and that is why the strike was called off?

    Well, you see, people say things because no one is suing them. What does the term “sell out” mean? These naysayers weren’t around when we first began, and they don’t represent the target audience for our mission.

    What we have are individuals with no business and no knowledge of labor laws. There is always a demand when there is a labor crisis. A contract is signed once a demand has been satisfied. I’ve never heard of Labour carrying out a plan of action after contracts are signed.

    Name one of those critics who has received training in labor or industrial relations theory or practice anywhere in the globe. When someone says “sellout,” what did you sell, how much did they pay for it, and who is the buyer? so some statement are just baseless and u cannot stop people from sayiung such.

    How would this new system assist states, local government units, and even the private sector?

    Well, the state of labor relations in Nigeria is supported by a tripod. When this issue is raised for the first time, it is absurd because states, local governments, and the private sector have never received their pay as a result of a national agreement being imposed upon them. Therefore, they will receive their supplies in the same manner as they have since the earth’s creation.

    To a great extent, bargaining is delegated to these places so that the advantages of democracy and uniqueness are ingrained in all we do. Getting a foundation for people to negotiate is what we do in minimum wage discussions as well; this is what takes place in states. When it comes to the minimum wage, some jurisdictions have even gone above and above the agreed-upon amount. So, given that this has been the circumstance, there won’t be an exception this time.

    Most of the time, private sector employees receive more than what was originally negotiated. The majority of private sector companies offer salaries that are higher than the minimum wage that was set. They recall that several private sector banks had always given 100% more than the minimum salary when we first introduced this structure. We can’t force them to negotiate on our behalf, but we usually offer them a framework to work within, taking availability and pricing into consideration.

    What factors will labor take into account while negotiating a new minimum wage the next year?

    The discussions that resulted in the present minimum wage have changed everything. We can now negotiate in a single day if the representatives from the government side can be impartial and realistic. We may examine the exchange rate; for example, if it was N300 previously and is currently close to N1,000, you can locate the percentage and rectify it.

    If a bag of rice was N7,000 when it was first released but is now N40,000 to N50,000, we can look at the percentage and make the necessary corrections. We will look at the percentage and repair it if you compare the price of Premium Motor Spirit, or PMS, which was N145 to the current range of N600 to N700.

    We can look at these things and enter them there objectively, whether under the cost of living index or utilizing the inflationary rate or whatever. By the time we finish, take into account any additional costs, and fix the problem, everyone will be aware of the percentage we can focus on and the area can be cleaned up in a single day without much debate. However, we won’t run into issues unless we go there to deceive ourselves and begin arguing needlessly like the so-called economists who advise us to “no, don’t pay anybody, let them die.”

    Things like these should typically be viewed with objectivity. The parameters have always been there, and the index is obvious, therefore I believe that is what we will be looking at. If we do so, it will be beneficial for us to first look at the parameters and then at what has transpired since then.

    Then, we are expected to project… We can now, if we desire to include the opening clause, say that every time inflation moves at this rate, salary will be self-adjusted to this rate, but if it changes from this trend in the future four years, compensation will not be self-adjusted to this trend.

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