LCCI Urges for Balanced Approach in Minimum Wage Negotiations

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The Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) calls on all parties involved in the ongoing negotiations regarding the new national minimum wage to consider a balanced approach that reflects economic realities, affordability, and sustainability. The LCCI emphasizes the importance of setting a wage that avoids potential job losses, increased poverty levels, and inflationary pressures.

Dr. Chinyere Almona, FCA, Director-General of the LCCI, stated, “We urge labour unions to be more flexible and reconsider the government’s offerings. It is crucial to understand how private businesses can afford to pay the set wage without facing operational shutdowns or cutting jobs. Beyond the new minimum wage, our primary concern is fostering a more productive economy with robust infrastructural support.”

To support this goal, the LCCI recommends several measures for the government to consider:

  • Implement special non-cash interventions that reduce production costs for businesses.
  • Remove import duties on food imports and critical raw materials and significantly reduce the import duty exchange rate on agricultural inputs and other imports with a multiplier effect on prices.
  • Aggressively meter power supply and invest in the sector to boost power supply through enhanced contractual discipline and guaranteed gas supply.
  • Build infrastructure to support local production of essential medicines and upgrade public health facilities.

Dr. Almona added, “With the government’s commitment to these support systems, low-income earners will spend less on essential expenditures, leading to a better living standard. Labour unions should focus on improving labour productivity supported by infrastructure rather than high wages with weak productivity. The government must invest more in providing the infrastructure required for a productive workforce and a conducive business environment.”

The LCCI acknowledges the significant increase proposed by the federal government to improve workers’ livelihoods across Nigeria. However, it is essential to consider the fiscal constraints and economic challenges faced by various state governments. Some governors, under the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, have expressed their inability to meet the initially proposed higher minimum wage due to budgetary limitations and the potential risk to essential public services.

“We urge all parties to agree on a wage that is within the financial capacity of both federal and state governments to maintain economic stability and prevent potential layoffs or cuts in essential services. It is imperative to adopt a wage that supports long-term economic sustainability,” said Dr. Almona. “Over-extending financial commitments could increase borrowing and debt, adversely affecting the nation’s economy. A realistic and achievable wage agreement will ensure workers nationwide benefit without significant delays or discrepancies.”

Furthermore, the LCCI calls on the government to demonstrate seriousness in reducing the cost of governance and commit to investing in infrastructure that supports productivity and revenue generation. With increased transparency in government spending, future negotiations will become easier as all parties will be aware of the financial realities. The LCCI also advocates for the national minimum wage to be reviewed every five years and for the government to enhance personnel allowances beyond the minimum wage based on basic salaries.

Dr. Almona concluded, “We call on labour unions to consider the broader business community’s interests in their demands and to be more flexible in negotiations. We urge all parties to work towards a new national minimum wage that promotes a fair deal for all concerned and serves the overall interest of society.”

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