Nigeria gov’t engages union leaders over strike

ABUJA, Sept. 27,
(Xinhua) – The Nigerian government Thursday said the late night meeting with
organized labor on the minimum wage did not end in a deadlock.

Minister of Labor and
Employment Chris Ngige, who confirmed this to reporters in Abuja, Nigeria’s
capital, described the meeting as successful.

The minister met with
labor leaders who were part of a tripartite committee on the new national
minimum wage to give them an update on THE government’s position.

Ngige told reporters
that both the government team led by himself and the leadership of the
organized labor agreed to reconvene the meeting of the National Minimum Wage
Committee on Oct. 4.

This is to give enough
time for the National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission to round off the
assignment given to it, he added.

However, local media
reported on Thursday the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC), one of the major labor
unions, had directed all its members and affiliate unions to commence a
nationwide strike on Thursday.

Xinhua reporters found
the organized labor on Thursday shut down offices of aviation agencies at the
Murtala Muhammed International Airport of Lagos to press home their demands for
the implementation of new minimum wage.

However, this action
did not affect flight operations at the nation’s busiest airport as airlines
and passengers went about their respective businesses without harassment from
the unions.

The union members had
at the early hours of Thursday barricaded the offices of the Federal Airports
Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).

Also shut down were
the headquarters of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) and the Nigerian
Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) at the Lagos airport.

However, in most parts
of the country, government offices remained open in spite of the nationwide
strike by the labor over new national minimum wage.

Civil servants, the
business community and schools were all open in northeast Yobe state.

A Xinhua reporter in
northern Kaduna said workers were at their duty posts.

Also opened were
schools, some banks including the Central Bank of Nigeria, hospitals and other
public sector offices in the state capital.

Labor union leaders
are asking the federal government to raise the national minimum wage from
18,000 naira (50.07 U.S. dollars) to 56,000 naira, citing the current economic
realities, especially the high rate of inflation in the country.

The 18,000-naira
minimum wage was approved when the naira was exchanging at 145 naira to the
dollar, and it has been unchanged for over eight years.

The naira now stands
at around 360 to the dollar on the parallel market.

The labor leaders had
on Sept. 12 warned the government against foot-dragging on the new minimum
wage, urging it to allow a tripartite committee on minimum wage to conclude its
job to avoid action.

Nigerian President
Muhammadu Buhari in November 2017 approved the appointment of the 30-member
tripartite National Minimum Wage Committee for the negotiation of a new minimum
wage.

The committee is made
up of representatives from the worker unions, employer organizations, and the
central and state governments.

GNA

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