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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More