Nigeria union leaders in wage negotiation amid nationwide strike

Nigerian union leaders engaged in discussions on Tuesday over a government proposal to raise the minimum wage during the second day of a nationwide strike that has disrupted flights and closed public offices.

The strike, organized by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), reflects the growing economic challenges in Africa’s most populous country, which is grappling with high inflation and an unstable naira currency.

On Monday, union workers shut down the national power grid, halted domestic flights, and closed most federal offices, ports, petrol stations, and courts, demanding the government increase its wage offer of 60,000 naira ($40) per month.

The government announced late on Monday that the unions had agreed to a week of negotiations to reach a consensus on the minimum wage.

On Tuesday, labor leaders were consulting with their member unions regarding the government’s offer.

The unions have been demanding a substantial increase to 494,000 naira (approximately $330) per month from the current 30,000 naira.

“Until we hear from our organs at our meeting scheduled for today 4th June, we are still on strike,” the NLC said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter.

The government reiterated its commitment late on Monday to a national minimum wage higher than 60,000 naira and stated that both parties would meet “every day for the next week” to finalize an agreement.

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

Since taking office a year ago, Tinubu has eliminated a fuel subsidy and removed currency controls, resulting in a tripling of petrol prices and increased living costs as the naira depreciated against the dollar.

The government has urged Nigerians to be patient with the reforms, promising they will attract more foreign investment, though the measures have significantly impacted purchasing power.

The second day of the strike saw varied levels of participation compared to Monday.

In Abuja, some ministry employees returned to work, although most offices and the National Assembly building remained locked, according to media correspondents.

In Lagos, the economic hub of the country, aviation union members were gathered outside the closed entrance of the domestic airport.

On Monday, local airlines Ibom Air, Air Peace, and United Nigeria reported disruptions or suspended flights.

However, international flights continued on Tuesday, as confirmed by a spokesperson for the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria.

Eight members of Nigeria’s Super Eagles football squad, including winger Ademola Lookman, were stranded on Monday due to flight disruptions and missed a World Cup qualifier training session, according to a team spokesman.

The NLC encompasses dozens of unions representing tens of thousands of members, ranging from civil servants and teachers to oil sector workers and transport employees.

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