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Senate Reacts to Suspension of Labour Strike, Speaks on New Minimum Wage Bill

The Nigerian Senate has promised to support the passage of a new minimum wage bill once negotiations between the Federal Government and organized labour are concluded.

The Senate also commended the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) for suspending the industrial action to demand a new minimum wage higher than the current N30,000.

The position of the Upper House of the National Assembly was made known by Senate President, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, on Tuesday.

He thanked the labour unions for listening to the voice of Nigerians and the international community by suspending the strike to allow for continued negotiations.

He said, “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.”

Akpabio noted that several issues need to be resolved in the new minimum wage agitation, including possible retrenchment of workers if the new wage figure is too high for employers to afford. He cited the case of the current N30,000 minimum wage, which some employers have yet to pay.

He said, “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.”

Senators were about to consider a motion on the urgent need to call off the strike when news broke that the labour unions had suspended the industrial action. The motion, moved by Sen. Diket Plang and seconded by Sen. Barau Jibrin, was stood down following the suspension.

Labour is demanding a new minimum wage that reflects present realities, while the government has agreed to pay more than N60,000.

The article was originally published on Politics Nigeria.

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