Nigeria’s labour union, the National Labour Congress (NLC) has declared an indefinite industrial what its leaders have tagged ‘government insensitivity and coldness’ to workers demands in Africa’s most populous nation. The union which is demanding for an increase in the minimum wage received by workers across all sectors in the country threatened the total shutdown of economic activities in all parts of the country.
The national chairman of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba confirmed this development during a press conference. “All public and private institutions, offices, banks, schools, public and private business premises, including filling station, are to remain shut till further notice,” he reiterated.
As a result of the strike, commercial banks, private organizations, government parastatals, institutions, and others are expected to comply with the directive that was given by the national body on Thursday, September 27, 2018.
According to Vanguard newspapers, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), including its Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) branch, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE), Association of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI), National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), and Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), will also be joining the strike.
Minimum wage coupled with the delayed passage and implementation of the 2018 budget, weakening demand, and consumer spending are some of the ‘risks to output growth’ in the country. Despite growing fears of an imminent collapse, the workers remain resolute about the demand for the increment in the minimum wage of workers.
In Nigeria, minimum wage is relatively low compared to what is obtained in many developing countries of the world. Thus, the union is demanding that the minimum wage which is currently pegged at 18,000 Naira ($38) be increased to $140. But, talks between labour leaders and government officials have been inconclusive for many weeks.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) raised concerns over the possibilities of Nigeria dipping into another recession barely one year after exiting a similar predicament. According to the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, Nigeria’s economy has recorded a growth rate of “1.95 percent and 1.5 percent during the first and the second quarter of this year respectively,” which is not good for the economy.
Last week, consumer prices in Nigeria rose 1.05% on a month-on-month basis in August, the highest since the country’s exit from recession. Nigeria’s GDP also shrank in the second quarter due to the fluctuating oil prices despite a huge contribution from the non-oil sector of the economy. As long as the strike continues, most of these non-oil sectors will be crippled and this could ultimately signal a disaster. Also, major foreign investors are concerned about political uncertainty and how this could affect the market.
Ahead of the next general elections, analysts fear that the economy may crumble even before the polls. It remains unclear how long the strike will take, but its effect, in the long run, could have damaging effects.