The Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress, and the United Labour Congress have threatened to commence yet another strike on November 6th. They also announced a National Day of outrage and mourning for October 30th.
The labor announcement is the latest chapter in the high stakes negotiation between the federal government and Nigerian workers demanding for an increase in minimum wage. Labor went on a warning strike a few weeks ago and have now threatened another one because they don’t feel like the government is keeping to its own end of the bargain.
“If nothing is responsibly done by the Federal Government to meet our demands, on Monday, November 6, we shall embark on a nationwide strike to compel this government to show more sensitivity to the plight of Nigerians and the suffering that is decimating our people on daily basis,” the presidents of the various labor unions said in a signed joint statement.
They also criticized the federal government for threatening to implement a ‘no work, no pay’ policy, saying that the government should instead consider a policy that criminalizes the non-payment of salaries.
Excerpt: “A nation where the governments owe its workforce several months in arrears of unpaid salaries has not sought ways to eliminate it but is rather seeking ways to gag same workers from protesting this crime against them and their families… Has the government considered ‘No Pay, No Work’?’ Has it considered criminalizing non-payment of workers; salaries? Has it considered paying arrears of salaries with interests?”
Bottom Line: The labor unions are fighting for an important cause. The minimum wage in the country is abysmal, considering the level of inflation and the high cost of basic things. It does not seem however that the various levels of government have the money to pay. Several states still have a backlog of unpaid salaries even at the current minimum wage. However labor realizes that with only four months to the next elections, it has a strong hand to play in the negotiations as no government seeking to win an election can afford to have workers embarking on strikes so close to voting day.