Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday said the organised labour expects President Muhammadu Buhari to submit the new national minimum wage bill to the National Assembly for passage into law within the next two weeks, explaining that it was prepared to constructively engage the federal legislature to ensure quick passage of the bill.
Speaking to THISDAY on telephone last night, the General Secretary of the NLC, Mr. Peter Essom, said labour expects speedy transmission of the outcome of the negotiations to the legislature without further waste of time, warning that any delay could attract a reaction from workers.
“We insist that a bill reflecting the agreement reached at the tripartite negotiations be forwarded to the National Assembly as soon as possible; that is what we are standing on. If that is not done within a reasonable time, then you will hear from us,” he said.
On what would amount to a reasonable time for the organised labour under the circumstances, Essom said, “We will determine what reasonable time is; remember that the NLC President had indicated that within a period of two weeks, we expect this bill to be forwarded to the National Assembly. So let us wait and see. When we believe that there is an unnecessary delay in the process, we will take decisions need to be taken and we will communicate to members of the public,” he said.
The NLC scribe said that labour was appealing to President Buhari to kindly expedite action on the proposed new national minimum wage by transmitting it to the National Assembly in good time.
He said the Tripartite Committee on the New National Minimum Wage had concluded its meetings and a report on N30,000 minimum wage agreed upon, adding that the ball was now in the court of government to do the needful.
“We all signed up on the N30,000, so why should there be any controversy. The report has been submitted to Mr. President and what we expect now from Mr. President is to do justice to that report, by quickly raising an executive bill on the new National Minimum Wage. And when that bill gets to the National Assembly, we want to assure Nigerian workers that we will be ready to engage them constructively,’’ he said.
The Tripartite Committee on the new National Minimum Wage concluded its negotiation process on November 5 and submitted the report to Mr. President on November 6.
Before then, the federal government had offered to pay N24,000, while the organised labour had agreed with the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to stand on N30,000 as the new National Minimum Wage.
President Buhari while receiving the committee report, said: “In a way, both arguments are valid. I want to assure you all that we will immediately put in place the necessary machinery that will close out these open areas. Our plan is to transmit the Executive Bill to the National Assembly for passage within the shortest possible time. I am fully committed to having a new National Minimum Wage Act in the very near future,’’ he said.