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Nigerian workers strike cuts power, closes airports

Nigeria’s largest unions have gone on strike to demand higher wages amid the worst cost of living crisis in decades, crippling Africa’s most populous country with power outages and major airports closed, as well as President Bola Tinubu’s economic reforms. … This ended fuel subsidies – only to send inflation soaring to its highest level in 28 years.

The Nigerian Transmission Corporation said that in this latest strike, workers shut down the national power grid and fired operators at a major transmission station, adding that other workers sent to restore power were stranded.

Elsewhere, government employees failed to show up or blocked office entrances, including at airports in the capital, Abuja, and the economic hub of Lagos. Their association said all aviation workers should stay away “until further notice”.

Starvation wages

“We demand a decent wage,” the Nigerian Labor Congress said on X, calling what they currently earn “starvation wages.” The Federation and Congress of Trade Unions represent hundreds of thousands of civil servants in key sectors.

Information Minister Mohamed Idris explained that the unions’ demand would result in an increase in the government’s wage bill by $9.5 trillion ($6.3 billion), which could lead to a “destabilization of the economy”.

Price increase

After Nigeria’s president ended decades of fuel subsidies on his first day in office in May last year, gas prices more than doubled at one of Africa’s biggest oil producers . Prices of public transport and goods have increased.

Tinubu’s government also devalued the naira to encourage foreign investment, leading to higher commodity prices in the import-dependent country of more than 210 million people.

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