Senate Pledges Speedy Passage of Minimum Wage Bill

* As Akpabio advises labour to consider implication of high wages

Sunday Aborisade in Abuja

The Senate has pledged that the National Minimum Wage Bill will be given accelerated hearing any time President Bola Tinubu sends it to the National Assembly for proper legislative actions.

The Bill would be sent to the federal parliament for legal backing whenever the organised labour and the Federal Government conclude negotiations on it.

Akpabio gave the assurance at plenary Tuesday while reacting to the news of the suspension of the industrial action embarked upon by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) since Monday.

The upper chamber was debating a motion on the ‘Urgent Need For The Organised Labour Unions To Call Off Their Industrial Action’ when the news of the strike’s suspension was announced by the Deputy Senate President, Jibrin Barau.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Labour and Employment, Senator Diket Plang, from Plateau Central, had moved the motion for deliberation at plenary.

Akpabio said taking the motion would amount to jumping the gun since the labour unions had already put the industrial action on hold.

The Senate President said: “Taking this motion will mean that we are jumping the gun and we are trying to settle the issues for them. 

“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.”

He appealed to the labour unions to consider all the variables surrounding the increment in wage before insisting on a particular amount.

According to him, “There are many variables that they will look at. Capacity to pay and the ability of states, local governments and 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 N30,000.00, how many states were able to pay? How many local governments were able to pay, how many employers were able to pay?

“We’ll be looking at those things because it’s important that 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. 

“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 the strike to enable negotiations to continue and we wish them well in the negotiations.”

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