Nigeria unions suspend nationwide strike to hold more wage talksTue, 04 Jun 2024 16:28:22 GMT

Nigerian union leaders on Tuesday suspended a nationwide strike to allow for more wage talks after they disrupted flights, shut down the national power grid and closed public offices and schools.The stoppage called by two main unions, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), came as Africa’s most populous nation struggles with soaring inflation and an unstable naira currency.On Monday, union workers shut down the national grid, stalled domestic flights and closed most federal offices, ports, petrol stations and courts to demand the government increase its offer for a higher minimum salary.The government late Monday said the unions had agreed to another week of negotiations to try to reach an agreement.After consultations on the government’s position with their members on Tuesday, NLC and TUC said they had called off the strike for seven days.”There is a greater need to create the right ambience for negotiation to continue unhindered,” the two unions said in a statement. “The indefinite nationwide strike action is therefore relaxed for one week from today to allow the Federal Government commit to a concrete and acceptable National Minimum Wage.”Unions had been demanding a minimum monthly wage of 494,000 naira (around $330), up from the current level of 30,000 naira. The government said late on Monday it was “committed to a National Minimum Wage that is higher than N60,000” and that the two sides would meet “every day for the next week” in order to reach a deal.The unions are also protesting for the reversal of a steep electricity tariff hike, one of the economic reforms introduced by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.They said unions were “deeply disappointed by the government’s silence and lack of concrete action” on the tariff.Since coming to office a year ago, Tinubu has ended a fuel subsidy and currency controls, leading to a tripling of petrol prices and a spike in living costs as the naira has slid against the dollar.The government has asked Nigerians to give time for the reforms to work, saying they will draw more foreign investment, but the measures have hit spending power hard.- Stranded -The second day of the strike had been more mixed than Monday. Before the suspension, in Abuja some ministry employees returned to work though most offices and the National Assembly building were still padlocked, AFP correspondents saw.Aviation union members had shut the entrance of the domestic airport in Lagos, the country’s economic capital, but it was later reopened.Though domestic flights were impacted, international flights were still operating on Tuesday, the spokesman of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria said. Eight members of Nigeria’s Super Eagles football squad, including winger Ademola Lookman, were stranded on Monday by flight disruptions and could not make a World Cup qualifier training session, a team spokesman said.NLC is an umbrella of dozens of unions with tens of thousands of members, from civil servants and teachers to oil sector workers and transport employees.