A protest against the increase in fuel prices and the cost of living in Abuja, in August. (Photo by Adam Abu-bashal/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
- Nigeria’s big unions say they are going on strike indefinitely from 3 October.
- They are protesting the removal of fuel subsidies, and a broader cost-of-living crisis triggered by allowing the naira to float free.
- Previous attempts at such strikes have met only partial success.
Nigeria’s major unions on Tuesday called for a national strike next week in protest at the government’s response to tackling the rising cost of living.
Africa’s largest economy has seen living and transport costs heavily impacted after the government ended a petrol subsidy and also freed the naira, leading to a sharp devaluation of the local currency.
Inflation is at 25% while fuel costs have tripled since President Bola Ahmed Tinubu ended the subsidy when he came to power in May calling the move part of necessary reforms to improve a struggling economy.
The National Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) said they had to call an indefinite strike from 3 October because the government failed to address their concerns in talks over how to ease the financial burden for Nigerians.
“The government has totally abdicated this responsibility and has shown gross unwillingness to act abandoning Nigerian people and workers to excruciating poverty and affliction,” they said in a joint statement.
“It’s going to be a total shutdown … until government meets the demand of Nigerian workers, and in fact Nigerian masses.”
“The Federal Government has refused to meaningfully engage and reach agreements with organised labour on critical issues of the consequences of the unfortunate hike in price of petrol which has unleashed massive suffering on Nigeria workers and masses.”
The government had urged unions to continue negotiations instead of resorting to strikes, saying this would hurt an economy grappling with double-digit inflation, foreign currency shortages and low oil production.
Tinubu has defended his two biggest reforms – removal of the subsidy and foreign exchange controls – saying although this would lead to hardships in the short term, they were necessary to attract investment and boost government finances.
Tinubu’s administration acknowledges the difficulties and says it distributed funds to state governments to help offset the impact of the economic reforms. Other measures include providing transport options and small business loans.
The NLC brings together unions for many industries from nurses to road workers and printers while the TUC represents senior bank workers and high school teachers among others.
Nigerian unions have threatened or gone on strike in the past only to come back into negotiations. It was not clear how much traction next week’s industrial action would gain.
The NLC and TUC called a strike in August over the same issues, with many businesses, government offices, markets, banks closed for a day in the capital Abuja. Strike impact in the economic capital Lagos was more mixed.
Nigeria, a member of the OPEC oil exporters’ organisation, is a major crude producer but lacks refining capacity and is forced to import most of its fuel requirements.
Additional reporting by Reuters
Source link : https://www.news24.com/news24/africa/news/nigerias-big-unions-call-indefinite-strike-over-fuel-prices-and-the-cost-of-living-20230926
Publish date : 2023-09-26 20:52:37