From SALIHU TSIBIRI (Abuja)
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has reassured that the 9th Assembly would not do anything to hurt Nigerian workers or temper with the yearnings and aspirations of the citizenry.
He made the statement during the emergency meeting with the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC).
Mr Femi Gbajabiamila observed that advocacy and lobbying have been the veritable tools deployed by labour in advanced democracies to score high points as against street protests or the casting of aspersions on members of the legislature.
He maintained that the dust being raised by the Minimum Wage Bill could be addressed successfully during the public hearing, where all stakeholders, including labour unions, would have the opportunity to kick against the draft legislation.
Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, emphasized that the Minimum Wage Bill, being a constitutional amendment bill, will take a very long journey through the House, the public hearing, the Senate and the State Houses of Assembly before eventually making its way to the Presidency for possible assent by Mr President.
The Speaker therefore, appealed to the labour leadership to shelve its plan for further street protests or calling out workers to embark on industrial action as NASS is doing everything possible to do justice to the matter.
Earlier, NLC President Comrade Ayuba Wabba, told the speaker that the leadership of NLC and TUC have started mobilising workers against the bill because they believed it would erode the over 40 years of progress made in minimum wage negotiations in the country.
Comrade Wabba said if allowed to pass, the bill would also ridicule Nigeria before the international community, being a signatory to Convention 26 of the International Labour Organisation on wage issues.
He maintained that labour’s position on the problem was not the inability of states to pay the minimum wage, but a case of misplaced priorities.
The sponsor of the bill, Alhaji Garba Datti, debunked the rumour that some state governors initiated the bill.