Nigeria labour strikes pause as negotiations take a hopeful turn News
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Nigeria labour strikes pause as negotiations take a hopeful turn

Nigeria’s labour unions announced on Tuesday that they would officially pause an indefinite strike over minimum wages to conclude negotiations with the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) initiated the strike on Monday, spurred to action by a widespread cost of living crisis that has left witness to inflation and a devalued currency. Although the strike only took root on Monday, the socio-economic fallout has been felt throughout the West African country. The collective action of union workers saw flights disrupted or suspended and the national grid completely shut down.

The NLC and TUC issued a communique on Tuesday, following a joint meeting of both organizations’ National Executive Councils (NEC) on the government’s offer. The communique signalled that while the government’s offer constitutes a step forward, it does not go far enough. While the federal government eventually conceded that its offer of 60,000 Naira ($40,03) needed to be revised and committed to presenting a better offer within one week, just how far the federal government will go remains to be seen.

Further, the NEC-in-session expressed disappointment with the lack of action regarding the electricity issues. Per the communique, “these issues are critical to alleviating the financial burden on Nigerian workers and the general populace. The electricity tariff hike and discriminatory Band classification remain unacceptable and must be addressed alongside the wage increase.”

The unions are demanding that the minimum wage be increased from 30,000 Naira ($20,02 ) per month. While the demand has moved away from the N494,000 ($329,60) initially levied, the unions have jointly stated that the federal government’s corresponding offer of N60,000 “mocks the excruciating hardship brought on workers by government’s insensitive and oppressive economic policies.” The unions are also protesting the package of economic reforms introduced under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s government.

Following the deliberations, the NEC-in-session resolved:

There is a greater need to create the right ambience for negotiation to continue unhindered. The indefinite nationwide strike action is therefore relaxed for one week from today to allow the Federal Government to commit to a concerned and acceptable National Minimum Wage; take definitive steps to reverse the electricity tariff back to N66/kwh and abolish the discriminatory classification of electricity consumers into Bands.

In light of the deliberations, Minister of Information and National Orientation Mohammed Idris has said in a press briefing:

We are united by the fact that we want the best for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and for all 200 million citizens of the country. We have a responsibility to strike a measured and realistic balance, in this effort to arrive at a new minimum wage for Nigerians.

The negotiations are set to continue throughout the week. Each one of those days will be critical to realising the aspirations of all Nigerian people for better living and working conditions.