Nigerian unions suspend national strike over minimum wage Nigerian unions suspend national strike over minimum wage

Nigerian unions suspend national strike over minimum wage
01 Oct 2018

Nigeria’s main trade unions have suspended their national strike after agreeing to further talks with the government about increasing the minimum wage.

Ayuba Wabba, president of the blue collar Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) trade union, said an invitation had been received to resume talks with the government and private sector representatives on 4 and 5 October.

"We demand that this shall be the final session of the [minimum wage] committee and a final report will be submitted to Mr President immediately," he said. "In order to avail the committee of the necessary conducive environment to hold this crucial meeting and conclude its work, organised labour has...decided to suspend the strike action with effect from today, Sunday September 20, 2018."

The industrial action was called last week following a breakdown in talks with the government over improved pay and conditions. The NLC and its white-collar counterpart the Trade Union Congress had both ordered their public sector members out and enjoyed almost total compliance.

Labour leaders picketed the main entrance of their headquarters, and some state-sector schools were also shut. Lagos airports and some bank branches were likewise closed, the Tribune Online reported. But many private sector organisations such as shops, markets and other businesses appeared unaffected.

The NLC's Wabba said the planned seven-day walkout was aimed at forcing the government to reconvene a meeting to negotiate a new minimum wage. The unions have proposed a new monthly minimum of between 45,000 naira (US$125) and 65,000 naira (US$180) compared with the current 18,000 naira (US$50).

"There are clear signs that the government is not ready for a new national minimum wage," said Wabba, adding that “a mother of all strikes” would be called if nothing was done.

Labour Minister Chris Ngige had called for a truce, saying that further talks would resume on 4 October and involve representatives from all of Nigeria’s 36 states. The states have raised concerns over their ability to pay any increased wage. According to SABC News, most still owe their workers several months’ backpay, despite a huge cash bailout by the federal government.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

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Nigeria’s main trade unions have suspended their national strike after agreeing to further talks with the government about increasing the minimum wage.

Ayuba Wabba, president of the blue collar Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) trade union, said an invitation had been received to resume talks with the government and private sector representatives on 4 and 5 October.

"We demand that this shall be the final session of the [minimum wage] committee and a final report will be submitted to Mr President immediately," he said. "In order to avail the committee of the necessary conducive environment to hold this crucial meeting and conclude its work, organised labour has...decided to suspend the strike action with effect from today, Sunday September 20, 2018."

The industrial action was called last week following a breakdown in talks with the government over improved pay and conditions. The NLC and its white-collar counterpart the Trade Union Congress had both ordered their public sector members out and enjoyed almost total compliance.

Labour leaders picketed the main entrance of their headquarters, and some state-sector schools were also shut. Lagos airports and some bank branches were likewise closed, the Tribune Online reported. But many private sector organisations such as shops, markets and other businesses appeared unaffected.

The NLC's Wabba said the planned seven-day walkout was aimed at forcing the government to reconvene a meeting to negotiate a new minimum wage. The unions have proposed a new monthly minimum of between 45,000 naira (US$125) and 65,000 naira (US$180) compared with the current 18,000 naira (US$50).

"There are clear signs that the government is not ready for a new national minimum wage," said Wabba, adding that “a mother of all strikes” would be called if nothing was done.

Labour Minister Chris Ngige had called for a truce, saying that further talks would resume on 4 October and involve representatives from all of Nigeria’s 36 states. The states have raised concerns over their ability to pay any increased wage. According to SABC News, most still owe their workers several months’ backpay, despite a huge cash bailout by the federal government.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

OTHER ARTICLES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

Nigeria: Africa's largest economy

Lesotho sanctions huge 62% minimum wage hike for factory workers

Minding your manners in Africa

 

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