Minimum wage: Striking workers paralyse activities at federal secretariat

The seven-day warning strike ordered by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has paralysed activities at federal secretariat, Abuja, on Thursday, being the first day.

Public and civil servants in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) stayed away from their offices, which remained under lock and key.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondents, who visited the Federal secretariat and its environs observed that offices were shut down.

In compliance with the strike, the gate of the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, the Court of Appeal, Ministries and agencies within the FCT were locked.

The Ministries of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Environment were also closed as union members used their vehicles to block the entrance to some of the buildings.

Also, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) was empty as only few senior staff members were seen reporting for work.

Few other senior officers, who had reported for work, were seen sitting idle at the gate and discussing in groups at the federal secretariat, Abuja.

It was also observed that some school children in uniforms, who had reported for school were seen returning homes due to the strike.

Some of the public school teachers told NAN that they were not informed about the strike, and therefore, turned their pupils and students back.

However, the strike had little impact on the social and commercial activities in some satellite towns Kubwa, Mararaba, Karu, Gwagwalada among others in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

NLC had on Wednesday midnight embarked on the strike to press home its demand for the implementation of the new minimum wage for Nigerian workers in the country.

NAN correspondents, who visited some commercial outfits, including Kubwa, Mararaba and Gwagwalada markets on Thursday, report that traders and buyers were seen transacting business, oblivious of the strike.

Chukwu Nworgu, a meat seller at the Kubwa market, told NAN that though the strike was a right thing in the right direction, he had to eke a living to be able to keep body and soul together.

“I am in full support of the strike, but I have to do my business to earn a living as a private man to feed my family, “he said.

Amina Okatahi, who operates beauty salon in Kubwa, who spoke in the same vein, however, called on the parties in the minimum wage negotiation to hasten the resolution to the issue in view of its negative impact on the larger economy.

“We may not feel the negative impact of the strike much, but this is not to say that other areas of the nation’s economy will not feel it.

“I am therefore appealing to the federal government and the organised labour to go back to the negotiating table and arrive at an agreed minimum wage for workers to avert indefinite strike,’’ she urged.

Other small scale operators, who also spoke with NAN on the issue stressed the need for a new minimum wage, adding that when workers received living wage, it would boost economic activities.

“When workers smile home due to increase in their salary and other emoluments, businessmen and women will also smile because that means a boost to our business,’’ Mohammed Ali, a cloth seller said.

Kubwa, Gwagwalada and airport express roads remained a beehive of activities as transport operators were seen conveying passengers to their various destinations unhindered.

At Wuse market, NAN also reports that it was business as usual as buying and selling went on smoothly as at the time of this report.

The story was not different at the UTC, Area 10, with traders and other business operators conducting their activities.

Meanwhile, buses with inscription of names of Ministries, Departments and Agencies were off the roads as a result of the strike.

The President of NLC, Ayuba Waba, said the warning strike became imperative, following the 14-day ultimate given by the union for the nation to have a new minimum wage could not materialise.

However, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, said the committee would meet again on October 4 on the issue.

(NAN)

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