Industrial actions appear to have become the new normal under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
In 2020, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on over 9 months strike which was eventually called off in December.
One would expect that the Buhari-led government would put in place measures to ensure such does not become the trend for other agencies by promptly addressing their concerns.
However, the reverse has been the case. Since the dawn of 2021, industrial actions have been increasing at an alarming rate.
Government agencies that have endured perennial frustrations caused by systemic failures are gradually coming to terms with the fact that protest is the best option to get the attention of the government.
While successive administrations also witnessed industrial actions by labour unions, the frequency of such strikes under the current administration has continued to generate concerns in some quarters.
SaharaReporters examines strike actions that have occurred so far since the beginning of the year.
February 5, 2021: The Leadership of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the non-teaching staff unions of universities started its nationwide strike on February 5, to compel the Nigerian government to address their demands.
The JAC non-teaching staff are the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and Non-Academic Staff Union of the Universities (NASU).
The demands included rectifying inconsistencies in the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS), non-payment of arrears of Minimum Wage, delay in renegotiation with government, NASU and SSANU 2009 agreement, among others.
February 18, 2021: The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) directed workers in all the states where the national minimum wage of N30, 000 had yet to be paid to immediately proceed on strike.
Although it did not name the states yet to honour the minimum wage, NLC said about half the 36 states of the federation had yet to conclude negotiations on payment of the minimum wage.
The NLC also demanded a downward review of the template used in determining the pump price of petrol to stave off an imminent hike in the cost of the commodity following the rising price of crude oil in the international market.
The Kano State council of NLC called off its proposed industrial action on April 8, 2021, after accepting the Kano State Government’s decision to revert the salaries of workers for the month of March to the old N18,000 minimum wage.
April 01, 2021: Members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) embarked on an indefinite strike, paralysing medical services at public hospitals in Nigeria, leaving hundreds of patients unattended.
The Association had earlier given the Nigerian government an ultimatum to improve the wages and allowances of doctors to avert the indefinite strike.
April 6, 2021: Members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) announced their strike with the closure of Federal High Courts in different states across the nation. The union said the purpose of the strike is to draw attention to the financial autonomy of Nigeria’s Judiciary.
Members of the union said they were on strike to press home their demand for the financial autonomy of the judiciary. JUSUN President, Mr Marwan Adamu, said all courts and other departments would be shut until and unless the government does the needful.
April 6: The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics declared an indefinite strike to demand the implementation of a new salary scheme for polytechnic lecturers.
The union demanded payment of salaries and promotion allowances owed lecturers by some state governments.
The union said it will be open for dialogue with the Nigerian government to resolve the issues raised.
April 13, 2021: Members of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, NANNM, and Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, in Ogun State were compelled to withdraw their services from public health institutions due to the high-level of insecurity in the country.
In the communiqué issued by the NANNM, dated April 12 and addressed to the Commissioner for Health in the state, Dr Tomi Coker, the nurses condemned the lackadaisical attitude of the government towards the release of their colleagues.
The NMA Chairman in the state, Oladayo Ogunlaja, said the strike was a joint resolution between the NMA and NANNM, saying they were going ahead with the strike, despite the release of some abducted colleagues until the government did the needful.
Time will tell whether or not more agencies and workers’ unions will follow suit to press home their demands.