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The forthcoming break expected to be embarked upon by the National Assembly may delay the passage of the the executive bill on the New Minimum Wage which is expected to be forwarded by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 23, 2019.
By that date, federal lawmakers would have gone on recess for election preparations ahead of the February 16, 2019 elections.
The General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Peter Ozo-Eson, told reporters that the union was watching the situation with interest and monitoring the activities of the National Assembly and Federal Government on the new minimum wage.
The Punch quoted him as saying: “All we are concerned with is the agreement we have with the FG (transmission of the bill on or before January 23, 2019.) The matter of election timetable is up to them (FG and NASS). All we are concerned with is the Memorandum of Understanding that we had with the FG which has dates that things should be done. However they get that done within the election timetable is their own business.
“We do not want to keep going back and forth on this matter. We are holding the FG responsible for honouring the MoU which says the executive bill will be at the NASS by January 23, 2019. Once that is done, we will know how to engage the NASS.”
Also speaking with our correspondent on the matter, the NLC’s Head of Information and Public Affairs, Benson Upah, said the new twist about election timetable and NASS recess were unnecessary distractions.
Upah said, “We are monitoring the situation at the NASS and hoping for the best and NASS members’ support to pass the bill. NASS members have in the past made sacrifices to advance the course of labour and democracy in the country. Therefore, we rely on them and will continue to solicit their support and understanding to ensure that this bill does not suffer any setback on account of their absence or otherwise.”
Asked if the NLC was worried that the issue of election timetable was being introduced into the process despite the MoU between the organised labour and the FG, Upah said it was an issue that were not envisaged by parties involved in the discussion in the past two weeks.
“When this process was perfected, we at labour did not envisage that it would drag to this time of the year. But now that it has happened, our prayer remains the support of the NASS members,” he noted.
After the MoU was signed, labour unions said it would take action if the FG failed to honour the bill transmission on the said date. When asked if the threat was still on the table if the FG failed to play its part on account of NASS recess for the elections, Upah said NLC and other unions would review the matter at the appropriate time.
The new development may lead to another round of speculation about nationwide strike before the February 16 Presidential election.