Nigeria’s president raised salaries for some public employees in a last-minute effort to appease unions, which had threatened to call a strike that could have paralyzed large sectors of Africa’s largest economy.
Lower-ranking workers will be paid an additional 25,000 naira ($32) per month for the next six months, President Bola Tinubu announced on Sunday in a national address to mark the 63rd anniversary of independence.
The increase would raise the minimum wage to 55,000 naira ($71), far less than the 200,000 naira ($258) that unions are demanding. Unions did not immediately react to the president’s announcement.
Public employee unions have threatened to go on strike starting Tuesday to protest the government’s austerity measures.
Tinubu, who has been president since May 29, has announced a series of economic policies that have increased the cost of living for more than 210 million people who were already burdened by inflation that was 25.8%. in August, a level not seen for 18 years.
Once he suspended gasoline subsidies on his first day in office, prices more than doubled. The devaluation of the national currency aggravated inflation even for basic products such as food.
Negotiations with unions have stalled and failed attempts at intervention led to the strike announcement made last week. On Sunday, Tinubu said the wage increase will improve workers’ compensation “without causing undue inflation.”
He again asked the population for patience during the time of austerity, stating that the current hardships “should have been eliminated long ago.”
“I wish today’s difficulties did not exist, but we must persevere if we want to reach a better future,” he said.