The NLC & TUC in the country is gearing up to articulate a firm stance on the suspension of wage award payments to civil servants. It has issued a warning to both the federal and state governments, urging them to be prepared for an increase in the minimum wage from the current N30,000 per month.

    The NLC & TUC

    The organized labor has also cautioned state governors, indicating that once the minimum wage is signed into law next year, they will be compelled to adhere to its provisions. Discussions surrounding the new minimum wage are already underway and are expected to be formalized into law shortly.

    The Federal Government has allocated the sum of N1 trillion in the 2024 appropriation budget to cover minimum wage adjustments, promotion arrears, and severance benefits for civil servants in its Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, as revealed by the Budget Office of the Federation.


    However, state governments have largely remained silent on the issue of a new minimum wage for their workers, despite the escalating cost of living nationwide. The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Idris Mohammed, mentioned in an interview with Sunday PUNCH in Abuja that the current N30,000 minimum wage would expire at the end of March 2024.

    The Federal Government’s team and the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council reached an agreement on the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage on October 18, 2019, following months of negotiations.

    Tommy Etim, the Deputy President of the Trade Union Congress, has indicated that the organization might decide to initiate an extended period of industrial action during its upcoming national executive council meeting. In a telephone interview with one of the correspondents on Saturday, Etim stated, “At the last TUC NEC meeting, we called the government’s attention to the fact that stopping the payment of the wage award is not in the best interest of the government, because it is a recipe for industrial action; so, that alone is a signal.”

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    He emphasized that if the government does not provide an explanation for the non-payment by the end of December, there is a high likelihood of a resolution for industrial action during the next NEC meeting. Etim clarified that the enactment of the budget by the National Assembly and the President’s assent is essential before any supplementary budget related to the new minimum wage can be implemented. He also pointed out that, given the current inflation rate of about 28.2 per cent, any benchmark without a comprehensive approach may not be sustainable, stating, “So, it is not going to be based on a mere pronouncement of N500,000, for instance.

    “The negotiation for a new minimum wage will be grounded in socio-economic realities. That is the foundation we will bring to the table. We will consider all factors essential for a worker’s well-being, including housing, transportation, and other components. Therefore, the discussion and negotiation will not be based on a fixed figure but will be determined by the prevailing prices of goods and services.”

    Addressing the issue of states that have not incorporated adjustments for the new minimum wage in their budgets, Benson Upah, the Head of Information at the Nigeria Labour Congress, remarked, “Once the law is passed, they will be obligated to comply with it. The manner in which they fund it will be at their discretion, and they have the option of supplementary appropriation.”

    In anticipation of next year’s negotiations for a new minimum wage for workers in the country, the NLC has emphasized that only an amount reflective of the current economic realities will be acceptable. The President of the congress, Mr. Joe Ajaero, conveyed this message at the 19th edition of the NLC 2023 Harmattan School in Abuja last Tuesday. Ajaero, represented by the Vice-President of the NLC, Mr. Benjamin Anthony, emphasized the necessity for government at all levels to acknowledge the increasing difficulty in life and living conditions.

    “The removal of subsidies on petroleum products has exacerbated the challenges faced by working people, causing significant hardship and contributing to a surge in inflation, increased inequality, and heightened poverty.

    “We must recognize that a motivated and well-compensated workforce positively influences productivity and national development. As we look forward to the commencement of negotiations for the national minimum wage in 2024, we call for the understanding of all stakeholders to ensure that we arrive at a minimum wage aligned with the current cost of living.”

    The NLC president emphasized that the ultimate goal of labor is a living wage that not only covers the cost of living but also allows for savings.

    Regarding the wage award, Upah stated that the congress would hold the Federal Government to its promise concerning the release of the outstanding wage awards to workers. The Federal Government had paid the wage award for September but failed to pay for October and November, prompting concerns from labor unions.

    In response to these concerns, the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation assured that plans were being put in place to ensure that workers receive their wage awards soon. Upah commented, “You heard their response to the effect that workers have no cause to worry. We will hold them to their promise.”

    One of the agreements reached with the Federal Government by the NLC and TUC leadership is that the government will pay a sum of N35,000 as wage awards until negotiations for a new minimum wage commence. Initially proposed as N25,000 in President Bola Tinubu’s Independence Day speech, the amount was later increased to N35,000 following discussions with organized labor unions, with the approval effective from September 1, 2023, according to a memo signed by the Chairman of the National Salaries, Wages and Income Commission, Ekpo Nta.

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