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Minimum Wage: Sen Kalu proposes N90,000 as Senate frowns at Labour actions

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Kalu gave the position on during Tuesday’s Senate plenary amid the suspension of the nationwide strike declared and embarked upon by leaderships of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) to press home their demands for new Minimum wage far higher than the current N30,000.

Warning of the inherent dangers of the industrial action the Abia-North Lawmaker urged the Senate to engage separately with the Federal government and the Labour unions to agree with the proposed sum of 90,000 naira.

Following a motion moved by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labour and Employment, Sen. Diket Plang, Orji Kalu beckoned the Senate to prevail on both parties to reach an agreement, he explained further that the sum of 90,000 will imply a 40% increase from the current wage.

As the Apex Lawmakers were about to delve into plank’s motion on the urgent need to call off the strike when the news filtered in that the labour unions had suspended the industrial action.

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

While calling for an immediate resolution Kalu described the complete shutdown of Nigeria’s power grid by labour unions as a “daring move” saying that might take four days to bring back the grid.

He said; “60 thousand might sound very good let the entire Senate see how we can persuade both Labour and the Federal government to agree between N75, 000 to N90, 000 naira.

“If you go by 90,000 naira , it means in the last five years in which this law (30,000naira) was made, it means if you divide 200 percent of N90,000 by 5 it will give you 40 and the food inflation, the purchasing parity and other things you have in the market its also around 32 to 33% so Labour should be very happy with what We are doing.

“Let us send a Senate delegation to the Federal Government and the Labour Party with the proposal of 90,000 naira and all the parties should agree to that.

“Pulling down the National Grid Mr. President is not an easy job and it might take up to three to four days for it to come up , shutting down and starting a National grid is a problem.

“The Federal Government and the Labour should be cautioned to come to an agreement. Though it’s going to be difficult for the private sector to pay, they must manage.

Senator Ali Ndume posited that the Senate in collaboration with the executive sponsors a Bill from a private individual, organisation or the executive so that whatever is passed will be implemented by the Executive.

The Borno South Lawmaker maintained that negotiations on the minimum wage should begin and end at the Senate inorder to forestall future crises.

Senator Ahmad Lawan expressed concerns on the value of the Naira which he said is more important. According to Yobe North Senator, the new minimum wage will have no effect on the millions of unemployed in the country.

He insisted more emphasis should be paid on strengthening the value of the naira saying that the new Minimum wage will be useless if the naira continues to depreciate.

“if the naira is 200 naira to a dollar the impact will be more on the entire Nigerians both employed and non employed”, Lawan stated.

In his remarks , the President of the Senate , Senator Godswill Akpabio said though it was heartwarming that the strike has been suspended but excesses made by some labour unionists need to be frowned at.

“One of such excesses was the shut down of the National Grid which is more of an economic sabotage than agitation for a new minimum wage.

“Also , disruption or prevention of students from writing their West African School Certificate Examination by some labour unionists during the strike was bad because the examination is not organized by Nigeria but by West African Countries “, he said.

He added that such actions would not be allowed to be repeated as required laws against them would be reflected in the new National Minimum Wage Bill expected from the executive very soon.

“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.

“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 said .

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