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Nigerian unions protest increasing cost of living

28 February, 2024On 27 and 28 February thousands of Nigerian workers went on nationwide protests against the increasing cost of living caused by what unions summarize as anti-worker economic austerity measures, that were introduced by the Federal Government of Nigeria. 

The demands include unions’ call to reverse the current anti-people and neo-liberal economic policies. Workers demand urgent measures to address food insecurity, to stop the free fall of the local currency, the naira, reconsideration of the removal of the petrol subsidy and implementation of the wage award of 35000 naira (US$22) which has depreciated in value by more than 50 per cent since the signing of the memorandum of understanding with the government in October last year. Unions are also demanding the payment of arrears, living wages, social protection for all working people, job security, and an end to insecurity in the country.

The protests were called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and supported by IndustriALL Nigerian affiliates who joined the industrial action. 

Joe Ajaero, president of the NLC and general secretary of IndustriALL affiliate, the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), said:

“We are saying let there be food available to the people, let the people live in safety, let the people live a life of dignity devoid of suffocating International Monetary Fund/World Bank policies.” 

In Kaduna State, North West Nigeria, John Adaji, the co-chair of IndustriALL Sub-Saharan Africa region and president of IndustriALL affiliate, National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers, led the protests with the state NLC chairperson, Ayuba Suleiman.

John Adaji, said:

“We want a conscious effort by the Federal Government of Nigeria to revive the labour-intensive textile industry and enforce the government’s Executive Order 003 on patronage of locally produced goods and services. This is one of the sure ways to save the naira and protect existing jobs in the textile and garment sector.”

Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL Sub-Saharan Africa regional secretary, said: 

“We will continue to reiterate and support Nigerian workers’ demands because they must be paid living wages to enable them to support their families. Social protection is also important to cushion workers against poverty wages especially precarious and informal workers who are the most vulnerable,”

IndustriALL affiliates in Nigeria organize workers in the automotive, energy, chemical, oil and gas, textile and garment, and other sectors. The affiliates are Automobile, Boatyards, Transport, Equipment and Allied Senior Staff Association, Chemical and Non-Metallic Products Senior Staff Association, National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber, Leather, and Non Metallic Products Employees, National Union of Electricity Employees, National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, National Union of Textile, Garment, and Tailoring Workers, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association, and the Steel and Engineering Workers of Nigeria.