Nigerian unions, government agree minimum wage to avert strike

(Adds Buhari's comment, background)

By Camillus Eboh

ABUJA, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Nigerian trade unions and the government agreed a minimum wage proposal to avert a nationwide strike that was to have shut down Africa's biggest economy on Tuesday, a union official said.

Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) General Secretary Peter Ozo-Eson said a committee set up with the government was recommending 30,000 naira ($98) as the new monthly minimum wage, up from 18,000 naira.

He said the proposal, negotiated by senior government officials including Labour Minister Chris Ngige, would be recommended to President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday and the strike had been suspended.

"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," Ozo-Eson said.

Buhari said the government would review the proposal. "Our plan is to transmit the executive bill to the National Assembly for passage within the shortest possible time," he said in a statement.

The main unions launched a strike in September after wage talks broke down. Unions initially wanted the monthly minimum wage raised to about 50,000 naira, but the government, facing dwindling revenues due to lower oil prices, declined.

The strike was suspended on the fourth day, with unions saying the government had agreed to talks.

The government has argued that many of Nigeria's 36 states struggle to meet existing salaries. Unions say the last wage review was seven years ago.

Economists say the new minimum wage risks stoking inflation, currently above the central bank's single digit target, creating a new headache for the bank as it defends the currency hit by lower oil prices.

Buhari plans to stand for a second term in an election in February when his economic record will come under scrutiny, given pledges to raise living standards, tackle corruption and improve security. (Additional reporting by Felix Onuah Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Janet Lawrence )

First Published: 2018-11-06 04:48:29
Updated 2018-11-06 20:16:05

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