The organized labor in Nigeria is intensifying its stance on the suspension of wage awards to civil servants, warning both federal and state governments to anticipate an increase in the minimum wage, set to be signed into law next year. Amid growing discussions around the impending minimum wage adjustments, the Federal Government has allocated a substantial sum of N1 trillion in the 2024 budget for minimum wage adjustments, promotion arrears, and severance benefits for civil servants.
While the Federal Government is actively addressing the issue, state governments have largely remained silent on the matter, despite the escalating cost of living nationwide.
In an interview with the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Idris Mohammed, it was revealed that the current N30,000 minimum wage would expire at the end of March 2024. The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has hinted at the possibility of a prolonged industrial action during its next national executive council meeting if wage awards are not paid by the end of December.
TUC Deputy President Tommy Etim emphasized that negotiations for the new minimum wage would consider socio-economic realities, including housing and transportation costs. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) insisted that the new minimum wage must reflect current economic conditions to ensure workers’ well-being.
Meanwhile, the NLC President, Mr. Joe Ajaero, stressed the need for a living wage that covers the cost of living and allows for savings. The NLC and TUC are holding the Federal Government accountable for the outstanding wage awards promised to workers.
In the northern states, the Northern Governors’ Forum is reportedly considering a uniform offer on the payment of wage awards to workers in the region, potentially impacting the delay in making any announcements. The NLC in Kaduna State revealed that Governor Uba Sani has pledged to pay state workers their basic salaries, 13th-month salary (bonus), and distribute additional palliatives.
While uncertainty remains in some states, such as Borno and Benue, labor unions are optimistic about reaching compromises through negotiations. The Ekiti State labor union expects a reasonable agreement with the state government, emphasizing that negotiations at the national level will influence state implementations.
Edo State’s Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, confirmed that the state, which currently pays above the minimum wage at N40,000, is prepared for negotiations with labor unions.
In Osun State, the TUC Chairman, Mr. Bimbo Fasasi, announced that the payment of wage awards to workers would commence in December, highlighting an agreement with the state government.
As labor unions gear up for negotiations and potential industrial actions, the minimum wage issue continues to be a focal point, impacting workers across Nigeria. The outcome of these negotiations will undoubtedly shape the economic landscape and the well-being of the country’s workforce.