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Nigerian umbrella trade union suspends nationwide strike

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Nigerian umbrella trade union suspends nationwide strike
FILE PHOTO: People walk past the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after Nigeria's main unions began a nationwide strike, in Abuja, Nigeria September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde/File Photo   -   Copyright  Afolabi Sotunde(Reuters)
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By Camillus Eboh

ABUJA (Reuters) – A Nigerian umbrella trade union suspended a nationwide strike on its fourth day on Sunday, after the government agreed to hold a meeting to discuss increasing the minimum wage, a union official said.

“The general strike has been suspended, not called off,” said Chris Uyot, deputy secretary general of the Nigerian Labour Congress.

A meeting with the government will be held on Oct. 4-5, the union said in a letter to members.

Unions want the monthly minimum wage raised to about 50,000 naira ($164) from 18,000 naira. The strike began on Thursday after talks between President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and unions had broken down.

In the letter, the NLC said the meeting was as a result of “united and sustained action”, adding that the suspension was part of an attempt to provide a “conducive atmosphere” for the talks to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

“Unions and state councils are requested to maintain a high level of vigilance and mobilization until the struggle for a reasonable minimum wage is successfully concluded,” the letter stated.

Evidence suggested patchy adherence to the strike, and its impact on the economy has been difficult to calculate.

President Buhari had promised to review the minimum wage after a fuel price hike and currency devaluation in the last two years. Those were aimed at countering the effects of a global oil price plunge on Nigeria.

Buhari’s handling of the economy and the cost of living since he took office in 2015 has become a campaign issue in the build up to the country’s presidential election which is scheduled to take place in February 2019.

Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress party on Saturday nominated Buhari as its candidate to stand for re-election in next year’s poll after he ran unopposed in a nationwide primary to select a candidate. The main opposition People’s Democratic Party has not yet selected a candidate.

(Additional reporting by Tife Owolabi and Felix Onuah; Writing by Paul Carsten and Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Peter Graff and Jane Merriman)

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