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Workers Would Rather Work for Nothing Than Take N48,000—NLC

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has announced its intention to mobilize workers to stay home or offer their services for free rather than accept the Federal Government’s proposed N48,000 minimum wage. This announcement came from Prof. Theophilus Ndubuaku, Deputy President of the NLC Political Commission, in an exclusive interview.

The Federal Government’s offer of N48,000, which is significantly lower than the N615,000 demanded by the unions, has led to the NLC and the Trade Union Congress withdrawing from negotiations. Labour leaders have branded the proposed wage “an insult to the sensibilities of Nigerian workers.”

In response to the unions’ backlash, Alhaji Bukar Goni, Chairman of the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage, has invited union representatives for further discussions scheduled for Tuesday, as per a letter dated May 16. Despite this outreach, Prof. Ndubuaku affirmed that the NLC would not relent until a more acceptable wage was proposed.

Criticizing the government’s approach, Prof. Ndubuaku highlighted the significant increases in state and federal budgets. He stated, “We have given the FG an ultimatum. If the new minimum wage is not announced by the end of this month, we will all stay home. Instead of accepting N48,000 per month, we will encourage workers to either work for free for the government or turn to artisanal work. This is our current stance.”

He added, “It seems as though decisions are made without proper consideration. Was the wage award intended as a palliative measure? We provided a detailed breakdown of a viable minimum wage. Even the National Bureau of Statistics reports that the average cost of foodstuffs is N900. Does this mean the government ignored its own agency’s data when proposing N48,000 as the minimum wage? They are either in denial or showing disregard for us.”

Looking ahead to the Tuesday meeting, Prof. Ndubuaku emphasized the need for a comprehensive plan: “We expect a robust arrangement on Tuesday. We cannot talk about “Renewed Hope” without a corresponding roadmap or package to fulfill the people’s expectations. The government needs to address food security, transportation subsidies using CNG buses, and health insurance.

By Tuesday, we will see what progress is made.”

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