Nigerian General strike erupts over minimum wage dispute amid economic turmoil

In a report by the BBC, an indefinite general strike has commenced in Nigeria as workers protest the government’s proposed minimum wage increase.  According to security guard Mallam Magaji Garba , the current wage is grossly inadequate, failing to cover essential expenses like a 50kg bag of rice, which now costs 75,000 naira ($56).

The current minimum wage is 30,000 naira, and the government has proposed doubling it. However, unions under the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) are demanding an increase to 494,000 naira, arguing that this amount better reflects the harsh economic realities faced by workers.

The Nigerian Information Minister has warned that meeting union demands could cripple the economy and lead to widespread job losses, as businesses would struggle to afford the higher wages and might be forced to close.

The strike has already caused significant disruptions, particularly at Lagos’ Murtala Muhammed International Airport, where passengers have been left stranded outside the domestic terminal.

Workers from key sectors, including healthcare, banking, and aviation, are expected to stay away from work, which threatens to paralyze the nation’s economy.

Garba, who supports a family of 14 and works for the education ministry in Kano, often walks to work due to unaffordable transport costs.

He urges the government to increase the minimum wage, highlighting the disparity between the meager earnings of low-paid workers and the substantial salaries of top officials.

Nigerians are also contending with the repercussions of removing a fuel subsidy and the naira’s steep depreciation since President Bola Tinubu took office a year ago.

Tinubu defends these economic reforms as necessary for long-term benefits, despite inflation soaring to nearly 34%.

The government has ceased pegging the naira to the US dollar, resulting in a sharp decline in its value—from $22 for 10,000-naira last May to just $6.80 now.



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