Labour Unions Ready to Strike over Unpaid N35,000 Minimum Wage to Judicial Officers

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Following the Federal Government’s failure to implement the approved N35,000 minimum wage increment for judicial officers, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and other labour unions have issued a formal strike threat, raising concerns of nationwide industrial action. This development threatens to paralyze the judicial system and further complicate the country’s economic and social challenges.

The strike threat stems from the government’s non-compliance with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed with the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) in April 2023, which stipulated the payment of the N35,000 minimum wage increment to all government employees, including judicial officers. The government’s inaction, despite repeated reminders from the unions, has been met with frustration and anger from labour leaders.

The TUC, in a statement issued on December 12th, 2023, condemned the government’s “lack of commitment” and “disregard for the rule of law.” The union warned that if the government fails to pay the outstanding minimum wage increment within a specified timeframe, it will be left with no choice but to call a nationwide strike.

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This potential strike action could have devastating consequences. The judiciary, already struggling with a backlog of cases, would face further disruptions, impacting the delivery of justice and potentially violating the fundamental rights of citizens. Additionally, a nationwide strike could cripple economic activity and exacerbate existing social tensions.

The government’s delay in implementing the minimum wage increase is particularly concerning considering the current economic climate. The average Nigerian worker faces rising inflation and a declining standard of living. The N35,000 minimum wage, while not sufficient to provide a comfortable life, would offer some relief and demonstrate the government’s commitment to its employees’ well-being.

The government must act swiftly to resolve this issue and avert a potentially disastrous strike. Engaging in open dialogue with the labour unions, demonstrating transparency, and fulfilling its obligations under the MOU are crucial steps to resolving the conflict. Failure to do so could result in widespread disruptions, erode public trust, and further damage the already fragile economy.

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It remains to be seen whether the government will heed the unions’ warnings and take concrete steps to address their concerns. The next few days will be critical in determining whether the judiciary and the country at large will be spared from the debilitating effects of a nationwide strike.

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