President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, says with the rising inflation and high cost of living in the country, organised labour may end up demanding for N1 million as minimum wage from the federal government.
Ajaero who stated this during an interview session on Arise Television on Sunday, said the worsening economic hardship Nigerians were being made to go through due to unfavourable government policies has made the proposed N35,000 minimum wage by government unrealistic.
According to the NLC President, any minimum wage must reflect the country’s economic conditions, noting that as long as the dollar keeps rising against the naira, the demands for a higher minimum wage will be inevitable.
He added that even the initial N200,000 minimum wage proposed by labour is no longer tenable due to soaring price of food items and inflationary pressure in the economy.
“We may end up demanding for N1m as the new minimum wage if the naira continues to depreciate against the dollar,” Ajaero said.
“This N1 million may be relevant if the value of the Naira continues to depreciate; if the inflation continues to depreciate. The demand for labour is equally dependent on what is happening in society.
“You will remember that by the time we contemplated N200,000, the exchange rate was about N900. Today, the exchange rate is about N1,400 or even more.
“Those are the issues that determine the demand, and they are equally affecting the cost of living, and we have always said that our demand will be based on the cost of living index.
“You’ll agree that a bag of rice is about N60,000 to N70,000. Foodstuff is getting out of reach. Now, will we get a minimum wage that is insufficient 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,” Ajaero said.
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