The tripartite minimum wage negotiation meeting held on Tuesday involving Organised Labour, the federal and state governments, and the Organized Private Sector ended in a deadlock.

The meeting ended in a deadlock following the Organised Labour’s dismissal of the federal government’s N54,000 offer as minimum wage.

Labour leaders also lamented the absence of state governors in the meeting to present their offers, as their representatives said they had no mandate.

According to sources, labour leaders insisted that the Federal Government has not made an offer and that it appears the government is not serious.

According to the labour unions, the N54,000 offer falls below the N77,000 salary its workers are earning.

However, it was gathered that the meeting will reconvene today by 4 pm and it was agreed that state governors must attend to make presentations.

In a chat with Vanguard on Tuesday evening, a member of the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage, Professor Theophilus Ndubuaku, lamented the absence of six governors who represent the six geopolitical zones.

He stated that it would not augur well if any agreement was reached without the governors.

Ndubuaku reiterated the May 31 deadline labour had given to the government to conclude negotiations.

He said: “It took them (the government team) some time and they were passing the buck on who would present the offer. It was then the Minister of Labour who now said they had shifted ground to N54,000.

We still told them that the ground they shifted means nothing. They have not started the negotiation because as of now, the take-home of the lowest-paid federal worker is over N77,000. By their standard, we have not started negotiating minimum wage.

“What we are negotiating now is wage reduction because what they are now telling us is that if we walk out of there if we agree on N54,000, that means we will come out and tell people who are already earning N77,000 that their wage has been reduced.

“We told them that a worker can’t start earning less than what he or she was earning. Is it that there is a reduction in inflation that the cost of living has improved, or is it that the cost of food items has come down?

“Why will they now be negotiating wage reduction? It is unthinkable. We cannot be involved in this kind of process where labour will sit down and negotiate wage reduction. On what will it be based? Will it be based on the fact that the revenue government is realising now since the petroleum subsidy was removed has been reduced?

“Or why will the government be talking about wage reduction when even the inflation is going higher and the cost of living is going higher? So, we told them it is not acceptable, but then we had to adjourn because we could not continue to negotiate without the presence of governors. It will not augur well for the tripartite committee.”

Speaking on the reaction of the organised labour when the N54,000 was offered, Ndubuaku said: “When they offered N54,000, we told them they have not started. We did not see that as any shifting of grounds which they promised.

“Shifting grounds must start from the point of negotiation for minimum wage. Anything below N77,000 is a wage reduction, anything below the take-home of the lowest-paid worker is a wage reduction. We cannot start negotiating wage reduction.

“Already the clock is ticking. We gave them a May 31 deadline to conclude negotiations, today (Tuesday) is May 21. We have 10 days to go and it will not augur well for this country if negotiations are not concluded on time.”

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