News / Africa

Nigerian Labor Leaders Call Strike Over Minimum Wage



Nigerian labor leaders are calling for a three-day general strike next week to protest failures to pay a new, national minimum wage.

Negotiations on a new minimum wage for Nigerians began more than two years ago with labor unions proposing as much as $340 a month. Lawmakers eventually settled on about $118 a month, or 18,000 Naira.

But nearly three months after that bill became law, few of the lowest paid workers in the public and private sectors are earning that wage.

"Those ones who are on the high side they are making it, but the masses are not making it," said Anne Elijah who works in a stationery shop in the Ikoyi neighborhood of Lagos.  "There are so many people out there who are suffering. We still need the intervention of the government to make things perfect for us."

Elijah says many parents can no longer afford school fees, but are afraid to ask for more money because employers have an ample pool of job seekers from which to replace them.

"Year in, year out we still collect the same salary and things are not OK," added Elijah.  "But they just leave it they way you collect [your salary] then you can't shout. If you say it, they will not answer you. They believe that if you don't want to work you can go. People are out there looking for jobs."

At the St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, Father Paul Anyansi says much of his congregation is just getting by.

"It's very, very important that we have a minimum wage that can cater for the basic needs of people in this country where there is a lot of inflation," added Anyansi.  "Things like kerosene, basic things are getting out of hand. Rents are getting out of hand."

So labor leaders are calling a three-day general strike next week to force private sector employers as well as federal, state, and local governments to pay the legal minimum wage.

"I know Nigeria is not even among the poorest countries," said Ahmed Mai Sakala, chairman of the Nigerian Labor Congress for Gombe State.  "But what we are in need of is committed leaders who will oversee the affairs of people in this country. And that is why we are in this case."

Lawmakers trying to avert the strike are calling for labor leaders to be patient. Sakala says all levels of government have had months to prepare for higher wage bills.

"The president of this country has signed it into law and yet even the federal government could not implement," added Sakala.  "It is very unfortunate. The labor will stand and make everybody to follow the law of this land."

Some governors say they are already spending too much on petrol subsidies to pay a higher minimum wage.

"The governors who are saying that unless fuel is deregulated before they can pay they are only saying nonsense," said Akeem Kazeem, chairman of the Lagos State Council of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria. "Because of the fact that this is the law. So anything short from 18,000 [Naira] minimum wage, it will not be taken."

Kazeem says the strike is meant to force private sector employers to comply with the law as well.

"Eighteen-thousand is minute from what is expected," Kazeem added.  "And if they fail to implement, we will not hesitate to go on strike. The idea of private sector employing casual labor with 5,000 Naira is out of the way."

Even if the strike is successful, there are many Nigerians who will not earn the higher wage. Economists estimate that as much as 80 percent of people here in Lagos work in the informal economy. Registered businesses with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from the minimum wage requirement.

You May Like

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs