Minimum Wage: Walking Out Of Discussions, Strike Won’t Solve Problem, MAN DG Tells Labour

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The Director General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Segun Ajayi-Kadir, has appealed to the organised labour to reconsider its decision to embark on a nationwide strike from June 3rd over the tripartite committee’s inability to agree on a new minimum wage.

The President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Festus Osifo announced the strike at a joint news conference with the leadership of the NLC in Abuja on Friday.

The organised labour had pulled out of the negotiation and rejected two Federal Government offers, the latest being N60,000. They are insisting on N497,000 as minimum wage.

Ajayi-Kadir, who is on the part of the organised private sector in the tripartite committee, said he does not believe that the labour walking out of discussions and declaring strike would help matters.

“We cannot afford to cripple the economy when all we needed to do was continue to build it. I think President Tinubu was very clear when he emerged as president that these are not going to be easy times and I think we needed to tighten our belts to deliver on economy that we know has been seriously battered,” Ajayi-Kadir said on Channels Television’s Sunrise programme on Saturday.

“Of course, government on its own side has to demonstrate leadership, sensitivity and sense of and sense of mind as well as sense of occasion of the period that we are in.

“So, government expenditure, government choices of what needed to be done, how much to be spent, the cost of governance itself, all of it has to come to the table.

“I think what labour is actually worried about is that they appear to be the ones on the brunt of it but we needed to be able to engage, walking out on the process and declaring strike, I do not think that that is what is going to solve this issue.”

The MAN DG said it is unfortunate that labour rejected the N60,000 offer from the government and the organised private sector, choosing to declare a nationwide strike.

He said the decision by labour, if allowed to go on, will be a huge blow on the private sector especially manufacturers that are already grappling with inadequacy in the macroeconomic environment.

“What we are saying is a situation that if we are not able to produce even with all the challenges we have, it is going to have a ripple effect, not only on our production process but on labour itself.

“If we down tools and we are unable to produce, it is doubtful if we will be able to pay even the offer that the private sector and the government have agreed,” he said.

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Ajayi-Kadir said that what is needed to be done is to ensure that the discussions continued until an agreement is reached.

He said he does not believe that the government does not care but that government must demonstrative the care and ensure that everyone involved remain on the negotiation table to be able to have an agreement that works for everybody.

The cost of living in Nigeria has reached new highs, heightening calls for a new minimum wage following the removal of fuel subsidy and the floating of the naira.

Labour leaders have in the wake of the development reeled out several measures including a new minimum wage, alternative modes of transportation, and others to cushion the impact of the subsidy removal.

The government later set up a tripartite committee made up of labour leaders, government officials, and the organised private sector to negotiate a new minimum wage.

Despite several meetings, the committee failed to reach a consensus, prompting the recent strike action by the labour leaders.

The Federal Government is yet to comment on the TUC and NLC’s latest move.

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