Nigeria sets big jump in minimum wage after strike

Reuters, Friday 26 Nov 2010

After nation-wide strikes, Nigeria's President has announced a bill that will double minimum wage

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan will send a bill to parliament more than doubling the minimum wage, meeting union demands after a nationwide strike this month, a senior advisory council said on Thursday.

The main labour unions in Africa's most populous nation launched a brief warning strike two weeks ago to push demands for a big increase in the monthly minimum wage to 18,000 naira from 7,500 naira.

The strike, which shut banks, schools and parts of the transport system, was suspended on the first day to give the government more time, but the unions threatened further action if their demands were not met.

The council of state -- which includes Jonathan, former presidents, state governors, the central bank governor and key ministers -- said it had agreed that Jonathan should send the bill for approval after "extensive deliberations".

"This puts to rest the labour problem between the federal government and the Nigerian Labour Congress (main union)," Gombe state governor Danjuma Goje told reporters in the capital Abuja after the council meeting.

Widespread industrial action has been rare in the past few years in Nigeria and previous walkouts tended to last only a day or two, in a country where much of the population get by on $2 a day or less and can ill afford to stop work.

The NLC and its sister union the Trade Union Congress represent members across most sectors of sub-Saharan Africa's second-biggest economy and prolonged industrial action has the potential to bring the country to a halt.

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