News / Africa

Nigerian Unions to Launch ‘Warning Strike’ Wednesday

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan delivers a speech in Port Harcourt on 14 May 2010
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan delivers a speech in Port Harcourt on 14 May 2010

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  • Chris Uyot, general secretary of Nigeria’s Labor Congress in charge of international affairs, spoke with Clottey

Peter Clottey

A leading member of Nigeria’s Labor Congress told VOA, despite a late night meeting and assurances from President Goodluck Jonathan, public sector workers will embark on a three-day ”warning strike” Wednesday to press home their demands for better pay.

Chris Uyot, general secretary of Nigeria’s Labor Congress in charge of international affairs, said the government has so far failed to implement an earlier agreement with labor organizations to raise the country’s minimum wage.

“It’s a warning strike against the federal government for their refusal or delay implementing the national minimum wage. The minimum wage, like you know, is the basis for negotiations in all sectors of the economy. A committee was set up which agreed on Naira 18,000 ($120) per month for the least worker in Nigeria,” said Uyot.

“But, since April, when this committee presented its report, the government delayed the implementation of this agreement. And so, we have given a warning strike to the federal government to implement the minimum wage.”

Both the Nigeria Labor Congress and the Trade Union Congress said the three-day strike will, in their words, pressure the government to raise the monthly minimum wage to $120.

President Jonathan cut short a trip to Lagos Tuesday and returned to Abuja for emergency talks with union leaders.

The two labor federations represent workers in most sectors of Nigeria's economy and a strike could bring parts of the country to a halt.

Uyot said the strike will go on despite concerns about its affect on the Nigerian economy.

“They (the government) passionately appealed that, for the sake of the economy, it will not be fair for us to carry out the strike, and that he (Mr. Jonathan) has already approved the payment of Naira 1700 to public service workers and, therefore, the marginal payment of Naira 1000, in addition, will not be a problem for the government, and that he needed to carry other stakeholders along, and so he was craving our indulgence for patience,” Uyot said.

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