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Nigerian unions protest anti-poor policies

7 August, 2023On 2 August in a national strike to protest the increasing cost of living and the introduction of anti-poor policies in Africa’s largest economy, thousands of workers took to the streets of Nigeria’s 36 states and main cities including the capital, Abuja. 

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) called this mass action. The labour federations have since met with the Nigerian President, Bola Tinubu, to engage on the unions’ demands such as the adoption of economic policy measures that protect workers and the poor, and to reduce government spending.
The unions say that the current socio-economic conditions of high inflation, unemployment, poverty, and the increasing national debt, are causing a cost-of-living crisis which is worsened by the removal of the fuel subsidy. Additionally, taxes are increasing, tuition fees have been introduced at public universities, workers will pay more in school fees for their children, teaching hospitals and federal medical centres are being privatised while government spending is increasing. The unions are concerned that these anti-poor policies will push workers and the populace deeper into poverty.
Lai Brown, Automobile, Boatyards, Transport, Equipment & Allied Senior Staff Association (AUTOBATE), general secretary says: 

“In the last two months, we have witnessed a series of socio-economic attacks on the workers including an astronomical hike in petrol, arbitrary increases in tuition fees at public institutions, and the devaluation of the naira. These events have caused untold hardships to members of AUTOBATE. The labour movement must keep up pressure until the government meets the legitimate demands of the workers that include a monthly living wage of 200 000 naira ($264).”

IndustriALL’s regional co-chair for Sub-Saharan Africa, John Adaji, says:

“IndustriALL affiliates in Nigeria participated in the protests against anti-people policies of the new administration and call for meaningful negotiations with organized labour to address the unions' demands that include the discontent over the removal of the fuel subsidy.” 

“We call upon the Federal Government of Nigeria to meaningfully engage with workers on their demands and to find sustainable solutions to the socio-economic crisis. Effective pro-poor policymaking and social dialogue are needed to improve the livelihoods of the workers in Nigeria,” 

says Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary.
IndustriALL affiliated unions in Nigeria are the Automobile, Boatyards, Transport, Equipment & Allied Senior Staff Association (AUTOBATE), Chemical and Non-Metallic Products Senior Staff Association (CANMPSSAN), National Union of Chemical Footwear Rubber leather and Non Metallic Products Employees (NUCFRLANMPE), National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), National Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers (NUTGTW), Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN), and Steel and Engineering Workers Union of Nigeria (SEWUN).