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Strike: Senate promises passage of new minimum wage bill

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Commends NLC, TUC

The Senate has promised its support for the passage of a new minimum wage bill if ongoing negotiations between the Federal Government and organised labour on a new wage peg are concluded.

It also commended the leaderships of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) for suspending the industrial action embarked upon by workers to demand a new minimum wage far higher than the current N30,000.

The President of the Senate, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, gave the position of the Senate while reacting to the decision of the unions to suspend the strike for five days to allow for the conclusion of the negotiations.

Akpabio stated, “On that note, I want to thank the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress for listening to the voice of Nigerians and the international community by calling off (suspending) the strike to enable negotiations to continue, and we wish them well in the negotiations.

“On our part, we will continue to do our best by making contributions and, at the same time, awaiting the incoming Bill on Minimum Wage for us to enact for the benefit of all Nigerians.”

Senators were about to take a motion on the urgent need to call off the strike when the news broke that the labour unions had suspended the industrial action.

The motion was moved by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labour and Employment, Sen. Diket Plang, and seconded by the Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Barau Jibrin.

However, the prayers of the motion were stood down just as the NLC/TUC suspended the strike.

Akpabio further noted that there were several issues to be resolved in the new minimum wage agitation, including the possible retrenchment of workers if the new wage figure was “too high” for employers to afford.

He cited the case of the current N30,000 minimum wage, which the Senate President said had yet to be paid by some employers and

local governments.

Akpabio went on, “Taking this motion will mean that we are jumping the gun and we are trying to settle the issues for them.

“There are many variables that they will look at. Capacity to pay and the ability of states, local governments, and the private sector to even pay.

“They will also be looking at the fact that if the minimum wage is too high, then the possibility of retrenchment of workers will occur.

“I think they will take comparative analysis to know that the last minimum wage, which was fixed by this parliament as an Act of N30,000, was: how many states were able to pay, how many local governments were able to pay, and how many employers were able to pay?

“We’ll be looking at those things because it’s important that a holistic approach be looked at, and I have taken the suggestion that we should not rest until we arrive at an amicable resolution of the issue and that the National Assembly should also continue to make its own contributions towards the ongoing negotiations.”

Labour is demanding a new minimum wage of N494,000, as against the N60,000 the government agreed to pay, a disagreement that led to the strike.

After a last-minute intervention by the leadership of the National Assembly on Sunday night, Labour refused to shift ground and proceeded to shut down public services on Monday.

But another round of talks began on Monday night, which led to the suspension of the strike on Tuesday as parties agreed to continue with the negotiations.

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