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Tue, Sep 5, 2023 6:55 PM

Workers in Nigeria Strike for Improved Welfare Amid Rising Costs of Living

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Workers in Nigeria Strike for Improved Welfare Amid Rising Costs of Living
Workers in Nigeria across various sectors have staged a two-day warning strike protesting the withdrawal of government subsidies on gas. The strike, organized by the Nigerian Labour Congress, aims to address the debilitating effects of rising living costs and deteriorating welfare. President Bola Tinubu's efforts to boost the economy, including cost-saving measures, have triggered public outcry due to increased hardship. If the government fails to meet the workers' demands for improved welfare, including salary increments, a nationwide indefinite shutdown is expected in two weeks.

ABUYA, Nigeria (AP) -- Workers across various sectors abandoned their posts on Tuesday to protest against the rising cost of living caused by the withdrawal of government subsidies on gas, threatening to "paralyze" Africa's largest economy unless their demands for improved welfare are met.

The Nigerian Labour Congress initiated a two-day "warning strike," the second in over a month. Last week, the Congress denounced President Bola Tinubu's decision to remove gas subsidies as having "unleashed massive suffering among Nigerian workers and masses."

Last-minute efforts to avert the strike failed on Monday night after union leaders did not attend a meeting called by the Ministry of Labour. The strike, affecting all sectors including healthcare and electricity, is expected to disrupt activities in many offices, further denting the continent's powerhouse, which has already been slowed by declining public revenues and oil theft.

Labour union leader Joe Ajaero stated that a "total and indefinite shutdown of the nation" will occur in two weeks unless the government meets workers' demands, including salary increases.

Tinubu's attempt to revitalize the economy has led him to introduce some bold measures that he believes will save more money, strengthen the local currency — the naira, and attract investors. However, these initiatives have caused hardships for millions in the country, and critics accuse the president of not acting fast enough to cushion the effects of his policies.

After scrapping long-standing gas subsidies on his first day in office, the price of gasoline more than doubled, causing a similar rise in other essential commodities. The government's currency devaluation further escalated prices, including those of food.

Tinubu's government has taken several steps to alleviate the problems, including a $5.5 million package in the form of loans and aids to states. However, workers argue that the measures are inadequate and that their wages remain unchanged.

Many employees cannot afford transportation to work, said Ajaero, describing the "unbearable massive suffering and impoverishment experienced across the country."

The government, on the other hand, stressed that a strike would worsen conditions for Nigerians and requested more time to find avenues for resolving the dispute. "We cannot do this in an atmosphere devoid of industrial peace," said Labour Minister Simon Lalong.

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

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