News, Politics

Labour Kick-off Nation Wide Strike Against The  Minimum Wage

Nmesoma Okwudili


June 4, 2024

On Friday, organized labor made a significant announcement, revealing their intention to initiate a nationwide indefinite strike. This decisive action stems from the Federal Government’s steadfast refusal to raise the proposed minimum wage from ₦60,000, a matter that has been hotly contested. President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, stated that the strike is scheduled to commence at midnight on Sunday, June 2, 2024.

In a collaborative effort, Ajaero and his counterpart from the Trade Union Congress, Festus Osifo, delivered a joint statement expressing deep-seated concerns and dissatisfaction with the Federal Government’s failure to solidify and enact a new National Minimum Wage Act. Their disappointment is palpable, reflecting the widespread sentiment among the labor force.

Furthermore, they articulated a demand for the government to reverse the recent hike in electricity tariff to ₦65/kWh, adding another layer of contention to their grievances. This multifaceted approach underscores the seriousness of their stance and the urgency they attach to addressing these issues.

Both labor unions had set a deadline of May 31, 2024, for discussions on the impending minimum wage adjustments. Despite earlier appeals from the federal government urging reconsideration, organized labor has taken decisive action today by initiating a nationwide strike, advocating for an increased national minimum wage for workers.

This industrial action follows a series of fruitless negotiations involving the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), and government representatives at tripartite committee meetings aimed at determining the new minimum wage. Despite concerted efforts, negotiations reached an impasse last Friday, precipitated by the government’s offer earlier in the week of a nominal raise of ₦3,000 to the previous ₦57,000 proposal, which was then augmented to ₦60,000—a figure deemed inadequate by labor representatives.

Today’s strike is a concerted effort by the labor centers to exert pressure on the government to concede to a higher minimum wage. Both congresses are adamant about their demand for ₦494,000, a figure they argue is necessary to adequately address the escalating cost of living.

In communications addressed to their members, numerous affiliates, including the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE), the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), the National Union of Civil Engineering, Construction, Furniture, and Wood Workers (NUCECFWW), and the Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), have completed mobilization efforts for today’s nationwide strike.

Furthermore, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), in a statement directed to branch chairpersons and zonal coordinators, issued a directive on Monday from its President, Emmanuel Osodeke, instructing lecturers in universities nationwide to participate in the strike as an affiliate of the congress. This unified action underscores the breadth and depth of support behind the labor movement’s cause.

The statement read, “The NLC has declared an indefinite strike action beginning from Monday, 3rd June 2024, as a result of the failure of Government to conclude the renegotiation of minimum wage for Nigerian workers and reversal of hike in electricity tariff.”

On Sunday, aviation unions issued directives to their members, instructing them to cease services across airports within Nigeria. These unions comprise the National Union of Air Transport Employees, the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals, and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, released a statement on Sunday, denouncing the proposed industrial action as “premature, ineffectual, and illegal.” Fagbemi emphasized that the ongoing demand for an increase in the minimum wage for workers in the country is presently under consideration. He pointed out that the labor unions failed to fulfill the necessary conditions required to justify their decision to embark on a strike.

In a letter directed to the two labor unions, the Attorney General highlighted that negotiations regarding the determination of a new national minimum wage involving the federal government and other stakeholders within the Tripartite Committee had not concluded. He argued that considering various employers of labor, including state governments and the Organized Private Sector, it is imperative to strike a balance between their interests and capacities to establish a minimum wage that caters to the broader working population.

Additionally, the Attorney General noted the existence of an order from the National Industrial Court (NIC) which prohibits the two labor unions from initiating any form of strike, emphasizing that this order remains in force until it is overturned.


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