Labour To Reps: Drop Controversial Minimum Wage, Make Only Responsible Laws

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The organised labour yesterday again asked the House of Representatives to drop the controversial minimum wage bill, urging the legislators to make only responsible laws.

But the speaker of the house, Femi Gbajabiamila, emphasized that the labour could not stop lawmakers from sponsoring bills.

Nigeria Labour Congress’ President Ayuba Wabba, at a meeting with Gbajabiamila and members of the House Committee on Labour and Employment in Abuja, alleged that some governors and other forces were behind the bill to remove the minimum wage from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent List.

Wabba said: “Also it’s important to inform the members that once a convention is ratified, it’s binding on the member country and not the sub-national.

“Every member has a right to propose a bill, but we know we should make laws that are reasonable, while taking on board some of those issues involved especially the commitment of Nigeria as a sovereign state that has signed these conventions and I must say that the minimum wage is one of the conventions.

“If states are allowed to fix their wages, who will fix for the private sector? We’re not saying there must a uniform wage for everybody, but just the minimum. That’s why Nigerian workers are at a loss and we felt this is the first place to table our protest because this is the house of the Nigerian people,” he said.

Responding, Gbajabiamila said the proposed law was well intentioned.

He said: “You’ve made some compelling arguments which are some of the things we want to hear. There’s no way I can fault that. You’ve spoken about the rationale of having the minimum wage on the Exclusive List. But let’s hear from the other side, even if it’s erroneous.

“You’ve obviously done your own work. When we begin to castigate a member, the member stands in jeopardy and even in danger and some unforeseen things can happen.

“We’ll do what we need to do and what’ll be of importance to us. You know our members and you know we’ll do the right thing.

“But you can’t stop (us) from bringing a bill. Beyond this bill, there’ll be other bills that we’ll not like and those that don’t have any merit will die a natural death, especially with arguments like this.

“Please, let’s tarry a while. We’ve heard you loud and clear. You’re allowed to protest…If I know a member is doing anything altruistic, I’ll never allow it.

“Please, don’t go on strike again. Please, no more strikes. Help us tell your people that we’re for them and will always be for them. We’ll not do anything that’ll halt the Nigerian people.”