Laura Thompson
Wed, Aug 2, 2023 10:15 PM

Labor Unions Protest Soaring Cost of Living in Nigeria

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Labor Unions Protest Soaring Cost of Living in Nigeria
Labor unions in Nigeria have taken to the streets to protest against the high cost of living under President Bola Tinubu. The unions are calling for improved social welfare interventions to alleviate hardship caused by the government's policies. They criticize the suspension of subsidies and the removal of exchange rate controls, which have led to soaring prices and increased poverty rates. The protesters are demanding a salary increase and transparency in addressing corruption issues.

ABUJA, Nigeria -- Labor unions marched across Nigeria on Wednesday to protest the soaring cost of living under the West African nation's new president, with calls for the government to improve social welfare interventions to reduce hardship.

The unions, made up of government workers, said the economic incentives announced this week by Nigerian President Bola Tinubu to ease hardship were not enough. They also accused him of failing to act quickly to cushion the effect of some of his policies, including the suspension of decadeslong, costly subsidies that have more than doubled the price of gas, causing a spike in prices for food and most other commodities.

Tinubu on May 29 scrapped the subsidy that cost the government 4.39 trillion naira ($5.07 billion) while new leadership of the country's central bank ended the yearslong policy of multiple exchange rates for the local naira currency, allowing the rate to be determined by market forces.

Both moves aimed to boost government finances and woo investors, authorities said. But they have had an immediate impact of further squeezing millions in Nigeria who were already battling surging inflation, which stood at 22.7% in June, and a 63% rate of multidimensional poverty.

"Since the subsidy removal, you can't move from one place to another," said Joe Ajaero, president of the Nigerian Labor Congress, the umbrella body of the unions. He was referring to the cost of transportation that has more than doubled in many cities, forcing a growing number of people to walk to work.

Ajaero said the labor unions have proposed an upward review of salaries but "the federal government has refused to inaugurate the committee on the proposal."

"Mr. President can't join the league of lamentations; he should come out openly and let us know those people who have cornered our commonwealth ... and not to lament that some people have stolen our money," said Ajaero, adding that the protest could continue for a long time.

One of the protesters, Usman Abdullahi Shagari, said he has been struggling to provide for his family, which includes five children, after the price of food items more than doubled.

"Feeding today is the most important thing," said Shagari, 45. "Everything has increased, so that has affected the feeding of my family and my salary cannot withstand it."

The protest by labor unions in Nigeria highlights the growing frustration among workers as the cost of living continues to rise, putting a strain on already struggling households.

The government's decision to remove subsidies on gas prices has led to a sharp increase in transportation costs, making it difficult for many workers to commute to their jobs. This has resulted in a growing number of people having to walk long distances to work, adding to their physical and mental stress.

Furthermore, the removal of exchange rate controls has had adverse effects on the economy. The local currency, the naira, has depreciated significantly, leading to inflationary pressures and a surge in prices for essential goods.

The labor unions are demanding an increase in wages to cope with the rising cost of living. They argue that the current salaries are inadequate to cover basic expenses, such as food and housing.

In addition to demanding higher wages, the unions are also calling for the government to implement effective social welfare interventions to alleviate the hardship faced by the Nigerian population. It is crucial for the government to prioritize the well-being of its citizens and ensure that no one is left behind.

Transparency and accountability are also key concerns raised by the labor unions. They criticize the government for its failure to address corruption issues and hold accountable those responsible for mismanaging public funds.

The ongoing protest by the labor unions sends a strong message to the Nigerian government. It is a wake-up call to address the pressing issues affecting the livelihoods of millions of Nigerians. The government must take immediate action to mitigate the impact of its policies on the cost of living and prioritize the well-being of its citizens.

Overall, the labor unions are demanding a fair and equitable society where every Nigerian can afford a decent standard of living. It is essential for the government to listen to their grievances and work towards finding sustainable solutions to the economic challenges facing the country.

Source of content: OOO News 2023-08-02 News

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