News / Africa

Nigerian Labor Leaders Call Strike Over Minimum Wage

Multimedia

Audio

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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid