The Nigeria Labour Congress has warned that it would rather mobilise workers to remain at home with their families or offer free services than accept the paltry N48,000 new minimum wage being offered by the Federal Government when they meet on Tuesday.

The Deputy President of the NLC Political Commission, Prof. Theophilus Ndubuaku, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with The Punch on Sunday.

On Wednesday, the NLC and the Trade Union Congress had walked away from the negotiation table after the FG offered to pay N48,000, a figure far below the N615,00 the unions demanded as the new national minimum wage.

After the session, the labour leaders told newsmen at an emergency press conference that it was ‘an insult to the sensibilities of Nigerian workers.’

But 24 hours after the revolt, the Chairman of the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage, Alhaji Bukar Goni, wrote the aggrieved unionists to return for another negotiation on Tuesday in a letter dated May 16.

But Ndubuaku vowed that the NLC won’t back down until an improved offer is made.

According to him, organised labour finds it preposterous that the FG and even state governors, whose allocations have witnessed a massive boost, could be giving excuses not to pay a robust minimum wage.

He said, “We have given the FG an ultimatum. If the new minimum wage is not out by the end of this month, we will all go and sit at home. Instead of us taking N48,000 per month, we will tell workers to work for free for the government or turn to artisans’ work. That is where we are now.

“I don’t understand the thinking of government. It looks to me like they do things without proper thought. Was the wage award supposed to be a palliative or what? We gave them the breakdown of what the minimum wage looks like.

“Even the National Bureau of Statistics has released a document that shows the average amount for foodstuffs. It is N900. This is even coming from a government agency. Does it mean this government is not in touch with its own agency before coming up with N48,000 as minimum wage? It is either they are living in denial or they just want to insult us.

“We are looking forward to a robust arrangement this Tuesday. We can’t be talking about Renewed Hope without putting up any road map or package to match the hope of the people. They also need to tell us what plan they have for food security, subsidy on transportation even if they have to use CNG buses and other issues like health insurance. By Tuesday, we will go back to see what will come out of it.”

Punch/Simeon Ugbodovon

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