NLC’s N615k minimum wage demand unaffordable, says Wale Edun

Wale Edun, minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy, says the minimum wage demanded by the labour unions is unaffordable across the board.


The minister spoke on Sunday during Channels Television’s ‘Sunday Politics’ programme.


The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had repeatedly proposed N615,500 as the minimum wage that the federal government should pay Nigerian workers, citing the high cost of living.


The groups, had on May 31, declared an indefinite strike, expected to commence on June 3, over the federal government’s refusal to increase the minimum wage from a proposed N60,000.


However, Edun said the labour union has to consider the affordability of the proposed minimum wage for states and local governments as well as the private sector.


He said by law, the government is mandated to set a new wage scale every five years.


According to the minister, it is noteworthy that “it is a minimum wage, it is not a wage”.


 “You are not setting a wage for federal government workers, for example. You’re setting a minimum figure that states, local governments, private sector, small businesses must pay, to the extent that they have the requisite number of workers,” Edun said.


“There can still be small scale businesses; they would have to pay that and it is a fixed figure, not a scale.


“So, there are elements of how we have set the minimum wage in the past, particularly what they call the consequential adjustments, which, given what labour is asking for today, would be unaffordable across the board.”


The minister said focus must be placed on the fact that once the minimum wage is enshrined in law, “everybody that falls into the category of having to pay the minimum wage must pay it”.


 “And so therefore, the affordability has to be taken into account. And also, we probably have to also take into account the fact that there are other ways of buffeting and supporting the cost of living of workers, other than that particular wage scale,” Edun said.


Edun said with goodwill from all sides, the country would reach a conclusion that is beneficial to Nigerians and the economy.

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