President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, on Sunday, disclosed that organized labour may end up demanding N1 million as the new minimum wage for Nigerian workers.
Speaking during an interview on Arise News, Ajaero argued that when they were considering N200,000 as the minimum wage, the exchange rate stood at about N800/$1, but that is no longer the case.
He said if the value of the naira continues to depreciate and inflation continues to bite harder, then the NLC would be left with no other choice than to make the demand.
Stating that the demand of labour is based on what is happening in the society, he added that labour’s demand will be based on the cost of living index.
Speaking further, the NLC president said the new minimum wage committee should have been inaugurated by the federal government at least six months before the current national minimum wage expires, but that wasn’t the case.
He revealed that even after the committee was inaugurated, they have not sat for meetings, meaning they may not have more than a month to deliberate and agree on a new minimum wage for Nigerian workers.
“You will remember that by the time we were contemplating N200,000 (as minimum wage), the exchange rate was about N800/N900 (to a dollar). As we talk today, the exchange rate is about N1,400 or even more.
“Those are the issues that determine the demand and it is equally affecting the cost of living. And we have always said that our demand will be based on the cost of living index. You will agree with me today that even a bag of rice is going for about N60,000/N70,000 or more. A bag of locally produced corn is about N56,000 or more. Foodstuff is getting out of reach, now are we going to get a minimum wage that will not be enough for transportation even for one week?
“You have to factor in these issues and that will determine the federal government’s commitment to this negotiation. It is not just that they want to give us a minimum wage. The old minimum wage will be expiring by April and ordinarily, the federal government ought to have set up a committee six months before that time so that negotiation would have commenced but the federal government didn’t do that until (recently when) they inaugurated a committee and the committee has not sat.
“It appears we are going to work within one month or two to agree on a figure and I doubt how those ones are going to… especially when you look at the people that the federal government assembled as members of the committee. They looked at some of the governors that are not paying even the existing minimum wage and even they have a minister of budget who didn’t implement his minimum wage as a governor.
“If you have these people in the government team on the issue of minimum wage, some of us have not seen a bright future in the work of this new minimum wage committee.