Linda Johnson
Tue, Sep 5, 2023 10:20 AM

Nigeria Workers Protest Rising Living Costs, Threaten to Shut Down Economy

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Nigeria Workers Protest Rising Living Costs, Threaten to Shut Down Economy
Workers from all sectors in Nigeria went on a two-day strike to protest the increasing cost of living caused by the removal of gas subsidies. They threatened to shut down the country's economy if their demands for improved welfare were not met. The strike is expected to disrupt activities in many offices, further impacting Africa's largest economy. President Bola Tinubu's measures to revamp the economy have led to hardships for millions, with the price of petrol and other commodities doubling. The workers are demanding an increase in wages and have given the government a two-week ultimatum to fulfill their demands.

ABUJA, Nigeria - Workers from all sectors in Nigeria walked off their jobs on Tuesday to protest the growing cost of living caused by the government's removal of gas subsidies, threatening to "shut down" Africa's largest economy if their demands for improved welfare are not met.

The Nigeria Labor Congress workers association began a two-day "warning strike" on Tuesday, their second in over a month. They met last week and complained that the decision of Nigeria's President Bola Tinubu to remove gas subsidies has "unleashed massive suffering on Nigerian workers and masses."

Last-minute efforts to avert the strike failed on Monday evening after the labor unions' leaders shunned a meeting called by the Labor Ministry. Drawn from all sectors including health and electricity, the workers' strike is expected to disrupt activities in many offices, further hurting Africa's largest economy whose growth has been slowed by declining government revenues and oil theft.

The president of the labor association, Joe Ajaero, said there would be a "total and indefinite shutdown of the nation" in two weeks unless the government fulfills the workers' demands including an increase of wages.

Sworn in as president in May, Tinubu's bid to revamp Nigeria's economy has led him to introduce some bold measures, which he said would save more money, strengthen the naira currency and attract investors. But those steps also caused hardship for millions in the country with critics accusing Tinubu of not acting fast to cushion the effects of his policies.

After he ended the yearslong subsidies for gas on his first day in office, the price of petrol more than doubled, resulting in a similar hike in the price of other commodities. The government's devaluation of the currency further increased the prices including foodstuff.

Tinubu's administration has taken several steps to alleviate the hardship, including a $5.5 million package comprising as both loan and grant to states. But the workers have said such steps are not enough with their wages still the same.

Many workers are no longer able to pay for transport to work, Ajaero said, speaking of the "excruciating mass suffering and the impoverishment experienced around the country."

The government, meanwhile, said a strike would worsen the condition of Nigerians and requested more time to find ways to resolve the dispute. "We cannot do this in an atmosphere devoid of industrial peace," Labor Minister Simon Lalong said.

The protests and strikes by Nigerian workers highlight the deepening economic crisis in the country. The removal of gas subsidies, intended to save money and attract investors, has led to a significant increase in the cost of living, pushing many workers and their families into poverty.

The two-day warning strike is a clear indication of the workers' frustration and determination to push for improved welfare and higher wages. Nigerian workers, across industries such as health, electricity, and transportation, are all banding together in solidarity to demand their rights.

President Bola Tinubu's administration, while aiming to revitalize Nigeria's economy, has failed to implement adequate measures to cushion the impact of the removal of gas subsidies. The sudden increase in fuel prices has had a domino effect, causing a spike in the prices of essential goods and services.

Workers have highlighted the inability to afford transportation to work, further exacerbating the challenges faced by the average worker in Nigeria. With wages remaining stagnant, the cost of living continues to rise, leaving workers and their families in dire straits.

As the strike unfolds, concerns grow about the impact on the nation's economy. Nigeria, being the largest economy in Africa, heavily relies on the productivity of its workforce to drive growth. The disruptions caused by the strike could have far-reaching consequences on the already struggling economy.

The government's request for more time to find ways to resolve the dispute, while valid, may not appease the workers who have given a two-week ultimatum. The workers' union, led by Joe Ajaero, has made it clear that they will resort to a complete and indefinite shutdown of the nation if their demands are not met.

Nigerian workers are sending a strong message to the government that their voices cannot be ignored. The protests and strikes serve as a reminder that policies aimed at economic reform need to prioritize the welfare of the people. As the strike continues, the government must act swiftly to address the workers' demands and find a sustainable solution.

Source of content: OOO News 2023-09-05 News

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