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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid