Nigeria: Labor unions suspend strike over minimum wage

By Rafiu Ajakaye

LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) – Nigeria’s labor unions on Sunday suspended the strike aimed at pushing the government to finalize negotiations for a new minimum wage of $139, up from the current $50.

The unions began observing the strike on Wednesday, almost crippling critical sectors of Africa's biggest economy.

Ayuba Wabba, head of the Nigeria Labor Congress, a body comprising over 5 million workers and 40 affiliate bodies, said in a news briefing in the capital Abuja that they suspended the strike after government committed to resume talks over the minimum wage.

“We have received a firm and formal invitation to reconvene a meeting of tripartite committee scheduled for 4th and 5th October 2018,” Wabba said, referring to the minimum wage committee comprising government officials, labor activists and private sector players.

The strike came a few weeks after the workers’ bodies gave Abuja an ultimatum to seal agreements that would see the current $50 minimum wage increased by some 178 percent — over five years after it came into force.

Calls for pay rise have elicited mixed reactions in Nigeria. Most state governors and federalists have insisted that the demand was unrealistic as many states are unable to pay the current minimum wage, citing lack of funds.

The agitation led to the establishment of a tripartite committee involving representatives from the government, labor unions, and private sector.

However, the committee has suddenly suspended talks at the behest of the government, triggering the latest anger within the labor movement.