November 6, 2018 / 4:36 AM / 8 days ago

Nigerian unions, government agree minimum wage to avert strike

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigerian trade unions and the government agreed to a new minimum wage proposal on Tuesday, in an attempt to avert a planned nationwide strike following threats to shutdown Africa’s biggest economy, a union official said.

Unions, which have been discussing with the government a new minimum wage proposal, had planned to commence a strike on Tuesday.

Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) General Secretary Peter Ozo-Eson said a committee set up with the government was recommending 30,000 naira as the new monthly minimum wage, after a series of meetings, up from the current minimum of 18,000 naira.

He said the proposal, which was negotiated by senior government officials including Labour Minister Chris Ngige, would be recommended to President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday.

“Following ... the signing of the final report recommending 30,000 naira as the recommended new national minimum wage ... the strike called to commence tomorrow has been suspended,” Ozo-Eson said.

“We all need to stand ready in a state of full mobilization in case future action becomes necessary to push for the timely enactment and implementation of the new minimum wage.”

Nigeria’s main unions launched a strike in September after the wage talks broke down. Unions initially wanted the monthly minimum wage raised to about 50,000 naira ($164). But the government, which is facing dwindling revenues due to lower oil prices, declined the proposal.

Unions later suspended strikes on their fourth day, saying the government had agreed to hold talks to discuss raising the minimum wage.

Buhari had vowed to review the wage due to a fuel price hike and currency devaluation in the last two years aimed at countering the effects of a global oil price plunge that hit the country hard. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest crude producer.

Buhari plans to stand for a second term at an election next February and his economic record will come under scrutiny, given previous pledges to raise living standards, tackle corruption and improve security.

Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Leslie Adler

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