Nigeria unions suspend nationwide strike to allow more wage talks

Nigeria unions suspend nationwide strike to allow more wage talks

Passengers were stranded after the strike shut down domestic flights as well as the national power grid
Passengers were stranded after the strike shut down domestic flights as well as the national power grid. Photo: Kola Sulaimon / AFP
Source: AFP

Nigerian union leaders on Tuesday suspended a nationwide strike to allow for more wage talks after they disrupted flights, shut down the national power grid and closed public offices and schools.

The stoppage called by two main unions, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), came as Africa's most populous nation struggles with soaring inflation and an unstable naira currency.

On Monday, union workers shut down the national grid, stalled domestic flights and closed most federal offices, ports, petrol stations and courts to demand the government increase its offer for a higher minimum salary.

The government late Monday said the unions had agreed to another week of negotiations to try to reach an agreement over the wage.

After consultations with members on Tuesday, NLC and TUC said they had called off the strike for seven days.

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"Strike Action relaxed for one week to allow the conclusion of negotiation," NLC said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter.

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Unions had been demanding a minimum monthly wage of 494,000 naira (around $330), up from the current level of 30,000 naira.

The government said late on Monday it was "committed to a National Minimum Wage that is higher than N60,000" and that the two sides would meet "every day for the next week" in order to reach a deal.

The unions are also protesting an electricity tariff hike, one of the economic reforms introduced by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Since coming to office a year ago, Tinubu has ended a fuel subsidy and currency controls, leading to a tripling of petrol prices and a spike in living costs as the naira has slid against the dollar.

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The government has asked Nigerians to give time for the reforms to work, saying they will draw more foreign investment, but the measures have hit spending power hard.

The second day of the strike had been more mixed than Monday.

In Abuja, some ministry employees returned to work though most offices and the National Assembly building were still padlocked, AFP correspondents saw.

Aviation union members were gathered outside the shuttered entrance of the domestic airport in Lagos, the country's economic capital.

But international flights were still operating on Tuesday, the spokesman of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria said.

Eight members of Nigeria's Super Eagles football squad, including winger Ademola Lookman, were stranded on Monday by flight disruptions and could not make a World Cup qualifier training session, a team spokesman said.

NLC is an umbrella of dozens of unions with tens of thousands of members, from civil servants and teachers to oil sector workers and transport employees.

Source: AFP

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