The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Saturday morning accused state governors of acting in bad faith in the ongoing minimum wage negotiations.

The NLC expressed alarm over governors’ claims that paying a monthly minimum wage of N60,000 would be unsustainable. On Friday, governors under the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) rejected the proposed N60,000 minimum wage for Nigerian workers.

In a statement issued by Halimah Ahmed, the NGF’s Director of Media and Public Affairs, the governors argued that the proposed wage is excessively high and unsustainable. They expressed concerns that if the N60,000 minimum wage is adopted, many states would have to allocate their entire Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) funds to salaries, leaving no resources for developmental projects.

Reacting to this, NLC’s Head of Public Affairs, Benson Upah, issued a statement criticizing the governors’ stance. “We believe the governors have acted in bad faith. Issuing such a statement to the world in the midst of ongoing negotiations is in bad taste,” Upah said.

Upah refuted the governors’ claims about financial unsustainability. “FAAC allocations have increased from N700 billion to N1.2 trillion, making the state governments richer. To pay a reasonable national minimum wage, not even the proposed N60,000, governors need to cut the high cost of governance, minimize corruption, and prioritize workers’ welfare,” he stated.

He emphasized that the union is focused on value rather than figures. “A national minimum wage is the lowest floor below which no employer is allowed to pay, aiming to protect the weak and the poor. We are not fixated on figures but on value. Those who think doubling the minimum wage from N30,000 to N60,000 is sufficient miss the point. In 2019, when N30,000 became the minimum wage, N300 exchanged for $1, making the minimum wage equivalent to around $100, with an inflation rate of 11.40%,” Upah explained.

He further elaborated on the economic implications, stating, “The mass incapacity of Nigerians is evident, leading to overflowing warehouses in the productive sector. This downward trend will continue unless the capacity of workers and businesses is enhanced.”

Upah warned of the dangers of paying a meager national minimum wage. “Paying a miserable national minimum wage poses grave danger to not only the workforce but also the national economy. The economies of most states are driven by workers’ wages. We urge the governors to reconsider their stance to prevent severe economic consequences for the country.”

The NLC’s strong response highlights the urgency and importance of fair wage negotiations and calls for governors to act in good faith for the well-being of Nigerian workers and the overall economy.


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