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Nigeria to Sack 33,000 Workers


Massive job cuts are underway in Nigeria as the authorities seek to restructure the country's civil service to improve efficiency and cut down on costs. Nigeria's largest trade union has rejected the move.

The Nigeria Labor Congress, the largest worker's group in Nigeria, has rejected the planned reduction of 33,000 workers by the government.

The Nigerian government said Friday it will lay off about 33,000 civil servants by the end of this year, in an effort to make the country's civil service more efficient. The Nigeria Labor Congress warns that the planned lay off which would affect 20 percent of Nigeria's public workers could have grave repercussions for the country.

"The Nigeria Labor Congress restates its opposition to the drastic cut in the federal public service being contemplated by President Obasanjo's administration under its broad reform agenda," said George Odah, the secretary-general of the NLC. "Any retrenchment of the magnitude described by the committee's chairman at this material time, will be too costly for the country in terms of social and economic terms."

The union says it is unimpressed with the offer of a pay rise for those to be retained. Odah says the layoffs run contrary to the government's promise to create more jobs.

"The contemplated retrenchment is ill-advised, ill-timed and unacceptable," he added. "It is inconceivable that an administration that has enunciated employment creation as a major hallmark of its reform would proceed to offload such a large number of people at a go. The inability to protect existing jobs shows that this government is paying mere lip service to their avowed objective of creating 12 million jobs."

The national executive committee of the Nigeria Labor Congress is scheduled to meet in emergency session next week to discuss what a union official referred to as 'an appropriate response' to the planned cuts.

Under the ongoing reforms, the government has removed subsidies and privatized inefficient state-owned enterprises. But the reforms have yet to translate into better living conditions for Nigeria's 140 million people, most of whom live on less than $1 a day.