Nigeria's two main labor unions are calling a three-day warning strike over pay. The Nigerian Labor Congress and the Trade Union Congress say it will begin Wednesday and could be extended indefinitely, countrywide.
The unions are demanding that the government make good on its agreement to raise the minimum wage to $120 a month. The government says it is making arrangements to do that, but the unions say they have run out of patience.
“If you look at our minimum wage,” says Elijah Okougbo, the general secretary of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG), “that gives you $115 dollars per month.”
That is what a Nigerian family, including extended family members, have to live on, he adds, and “Nigerian is an oil producing country.”
The government says it has concluded plans to pay the rate increase but that unions are in too much of a hurry for the process to be completed.
But Okougbo says government has had plenty of time.
“What have they been doing over the months? They are playing to the gallery. If a National Assembly man earns over four million Naira a month and they use millions to feed them, what do you expect.”
He says the strike is a symbolic one designed not to increase the hardship families are going through.
“It’s a three-day warning strike and we will conduct [it] in such a way that the economy will not crumble. We will have to do it in such a way that it would really be a warning strike to the government.”