Posted by Onyedi Ojiabor, Abuja | 8 January 2019 | 1,596 times
The Senate on Monday pleaded with organised labour to shelve its planned nationwide industrial action over a new minimum wage in the interest of the country.
The upper chamber said that Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and its sister organisations should drop the proposed strike because findings showed that President Muhammadu Buhari is working to convince states to pay the new wage.
Chairman Senate Committee on Labour, Senator Abu Ibrahim, who spoke on organised labour’s strike threat over the N30,000 minimum wage agitation, said that the federal and state government on one hand and organised labour, on the other hand, should work to strike a balance in the interest of the country.
The Katsina South lawmaker noted that the negotiation for a new salary structure is basically for the federal and state governments to conclude since they are to implement resolutions.
He said that the Senate can only intervene if there is serious disagreement that required the input of the legislature.
He insisted that it is obvious that President Buhari is working round the clock trying to convince the states to agree to pay the proposed new minimum wage.
The committee chairman added that labour unions are Nigerians who could also appreciate the financial state of the states.
He noted that it is equally evident that “there is no way, a state like Lagos can pay an amount and you expect some other states to pay like Lagos.”
He suggested the need to look at the system of the minimum wage, especially a change in the variations to allow the states to determine their minimum wages.
Ibrahim who took over the Senate Labour Committee shortly before the Senate went on Christmas and New Year break, noted that “what is important is for the government to sit with labour and proffer solution and labour should know that Nigeria is a federation and the federal government had to give assistance to the states to be able to pay even the current N18, 000.”
Both sides in the negotiation, he said, should be reasonable in order to seal an amicable solution in the interest of the country.
According to him, “President Buhari has been a salary earner and he knows how the workers feel and I am sure he would be on the sides of the workers.”
He noted that what is needed is harmonization and understanding on both sides to reach a middle ground.
On the transmission of a new minimum wage bill to the National Assembly for passage into law, Ibrahim said that it should not lead to strike since the federal government can transmit the agreement “but must carry the states along.”
He noted that the federal government cannot act unilaterally especially if states refused to go along with the federal government on what to pay.
He said, “The federal government can pay, but how many of the states can pay? Will the federal government continue to assist the states to pay the N30, 000?
“Even if the agreement is transmitted, it has to pass through the committee and the committee would work on it and follow all the processes before the Senate can finally decide and pass the law,” he said.
On the 2019 Appropriation Bill, Ibrahim said that as far as he is concerned, the National Assembly can conclude work on the budget within three weeks after resumption next week.
•Sourced from The Nation report
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