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Nationwide Indefinite Strike Announced by Nigerian Labour Unions Following Breakdown in Minimum Wage Negotiations

Organized labour in Nigeria has declared a nationwide indefinite strike set to begin at midnight on Sunday, June 2,

Nationwide Indefinite Strike Announced by Nigerian Labour Unions Following Breakdown in Minimum Wage Negotiations

Organized labour in Nigeria has declared a nationwide indefinite strike set to begin at midnight on Sunday, June 2, 2024, after the collapse of negotiations over a new national minimum wage for workers. Consequently, workers across the country will down tools starting from 1 a.m. on Monday, June 3, 2024.

Addressing the media in Abuja on Friday, Joe Ajaero and Festus Osifo, Presidents of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), respectively, expressed their disappointment over the government’s handling of the wage negotiations. They cited the absence of a government representative with the necessary mandate at the latest negotiation meeting as the final straw that led to the strike decision.

Breakdown of Negotiations

Festus Osifo, speaking on behalf of both labour unions, explained that the negotiation scheduled for Friday, May 31st, failed to proceed due to the lack of a substantive government representative. The only official present was the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mrs. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, who serves as a mediator. This absence left labour unions with no choice but to enforce their May Day ultimatum, which demanded that the government meet their wage demands by May 31st.

“The last time the Committee met, the government offered a wage of Sixty thousand naira (N60,000.00), which we made clear was unacceptable,” Osifo stated. “We expected the government to reconvene with a better offer, but their failure to present authorized representatives today shows a lack of commitment.”

Reasons for the Strike

Osifo reminded Nigerians that the ultimatum issued during the May Day Rally on May 1, 2024, addressed two critical issues: the hike in electricity tariffs and the new national minimum wage. Despite protests and formal complaints to the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the Distribution Companies (DISCOS), there has been no response from the government.

“Our demand was to revert the electricity tariff from 225 Naira per kilowatt to the previous rate of 66 Naira per kilowatt,” Osifo emphasized. “The hardship we are facing is a direct result of poorly thought-out government policies.”

With the ultimatum expiring at midnight on May 31st, Osifo announced the commencement of the nationwide strike. “This strike will be indefinite and will continue until we achieve a new national minimum wage,” he declared.

Labour Unions’ Stance on Negotiations

NLC President Joe Ajaero reiterated that workers remain open to negotiations during the strike. “The strike will be called off once a new minimum wage is agreed upon,” Ajaero assured.

Addressing concerns about provisions for workers in case of a prolonged strike, Ajaero clarified that such measures are considered if a strike extends beyond one month. “It is not the responsibility of the umbrella bodies to provide welfare; individual unions are expected to take care of their members,” he noted. “However, we do not anticipate the strike lasting that long.”

Conclusion

As the nation braces for the impending strike, the organized labour’s stance is clear: until a satisfactory new minimum wage is negotiated, the industrial action will persist, highlighting the critical need for the government to address the pressing economic concerns of Nigerian workers.

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