Challenges Persist in Implementing Minimum Wage Increase in Togo, One Year On

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In early 2023, Togo increased its minimum wage, known as the Guaranteed Interprofessional Minimum Wage (Smig). The new minimum wage was 52,500 CFA francs, up from 35,000 CFA francs in 2012. This decision followed negotiations and an agreement between the government and social partners. However, over a year later, the outcome of this wage hike appears to be mixed.

According to Togo’s Martin Luther King Movement (MMLK), the implementation of the minimum wage increase, intended to impact the lives of Togolese workers positively, varies across the private sector. Edoh Komi, the president of MMLK, aims to draw attention to certain employers’ failure to implement this increase in minimum wages.

“A year ago, we expressed satisfaction. But now, a year later, we realize that the application is ineffective on several fronts, particularly in companies within the free trade zone where employers threaten workers if they continue to demand it. This lack of seriousness is concerning because government decisions must be enforced. There is a lack of follow-up in terms of implementation,” he laments.

Demand for New Salary Structures
These difficulties are also acknowledged by Emmanuel Agbenou, the Secretary-General of the Confederation of Togolese Workers, especially in the past year. Unions now seek a new collective agreement and a new salary structure that accounts for this increase, to be discussed with employers.

“At first, some employers threatened layoffs, and the minister intervened to state: ‘No worker should be dismissed because of the Smig increase.’ It’s true that in some companies, employers struggle to pay due to the high cost of living,” explains Emmanuel Agbenou.

When questioned on this matter, the Minister of Labor, Gilbert Bawara, emphasizes his availability, along with labor inspectors and employer organizations, to address workers’ concerns. He reminds us that Togo has mechanisms allowing workers and unions to submit cases of violations regarding the minimum wage or social rights.

The challenge now lies in ensuring widespread compliance with the increased minimum wage, fostering dialogue between stakeholders, and addressing the economic constraints faced by some employers. As Togo moves forward, it must prioritize effective enforcement mechanisms to uphold workers’ rights and promote sustainable economic growth.


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