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Nigeria: Labour unions continue two day nationwide strike over soaring inflation

Labour unionist march on the streets to protest economic hardship in Lagos Nigeria, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024.   -  
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Sunday Alamba/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved


Nigeria's government and union workers took to the streets of Lagos Tuesday as part of a new nationwide protest that threatened to shut down key services, with people angry about soaring inflation and growing economic pain.

Since assuming office last year, President Bola Tinubu has enacted a range of controversial policies including scrapping fuel subsidies and unifying the country’s multiple exchange rate, leading to a devaluation of the naira against the dollar.

Petrol prices have more than doubled and inflation has soared as a result, hitting close to 30% last month, the highest in nearly three decades, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Protests have been ongoing for months with government labour unions responding with threats of walking out.

In October, unions reached a deal with Tinubu’s government to end strikes in return for monthly stipends and subsidies to cushion the blow of his policies.

But they continued a month later with a major strike in November, to protest the beating of a union leader, which brought the country to a virtual standstill.

Unions say the government has failed to deliver on promises that included a monthly wage increase of approximately $20 for all workers for six months, and payments of approximately $15 for three months to millions of vulnerable households. A pledge to roll out gas-powered buses for mass transit last year also failed to materialise.

Agnes Sessi, the Lagos State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, said Nigerians must act.

“Nigerians today, let us rise and let us tell Mr. President (Bola Ahmed Tinubu) what he is supposed to hear and what do we need to tell Mr. President? Nigerians are hungry. There’s hunger in the land," said Sessi.

While most previous protests impacted service delivery at ports, schools and hospitals, on Tuesday most services appeared to continue with a reduced workforce despite many workers staying home.

The demonstration included two major government unions, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC).

“Nigeria needs to change and probably this is the beginning of it, let’s hope it works out well,” said doctor Dokun Adedeji.

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