Union Warns of Potential Action As Talks On New Minimum Wage Hit Roadblock, Labor unions in the country are gearing up for a potential showdown with the federal and state governments due to the lack of progress on a new minimum wage for public sector workers, and they have not ruled out the possibility of an industrial crisis.

    Their concern arises from the Federal Government’s failure to form a committee for negotiating the new minimum wage by appointing its representatives. In contrast, labor unions have expressed their readiness to commence talks, with negotiators standing by.

    Union Warns

    Workers have been grappling with the surge in prices of goods and services following the removal of fuel subsidies by the Federal Government. This has led to inflation and an increased cost of living, impacting workers’ monthly wages and making them insufficient to meet basic needs.

    In June 2023, workers and some labor leaders demanded an increase in the minimum wage from N30,000 to N250,000, citing the current economic challenges. The amount was later adjusted to N200,000 monthly.

    Assistant General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Chris Onyeka, highlighted that many workers are struggling to afford rent, pay their children’s school fees, and cope with the nearly 300% increase in transportation costs.

    A few weeks after his inauguration as President, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu emphasized that improving the livelihoods of Nigerians was a top priority for his administration. He pledged to implement more people-focused economic policies and assured Nigerian workers that the national minimum wage required a review to align with current realities.


    Despite these assurances, Nigerian workers continue to struggle with the challenges of escalating inflation. The minimum wage was previously increased from N18,000 to N30,000 on April 18, 2019, following prolonged negotiations. The Federal Government emphasized that all states should comply with the new minimum wage, with a committee working on upward consequential adjustments for those already earning above N30,000.

    However, some states have not implemented the law, and workers are advocating for a further increase, suggesting an amount exceeding N200,000. The Organised Labour appointed representatives to join the National Minimum Wage Review Committee, which is mandated to oversee negotiations and provide recommendations to the Federal Government on appropriate wage rates reflective of the new economic realities.

    A strike is imminent – TUC

    The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has issued a warning of a possible industrial action if the government fails to expedite the establishment of the wage review committee. According to the Deputy President of TUC, Tommy Etuk, the committee should have been constituted by now, given that the country is due for a new minimum wage by April 2024. Etuk emphasized the importance of early committee inauguration for a smooth negotiation process and collective agreement.

    FG in emergency meeting with NLC TUC over looming nationwide.webp

    Responding to these concerns, a Presidency official acknowledged ongoing talks at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) regarding the Minimum Wage Committee. The official assured that the government is committed to reviewing the minimum wage and will inaugurate the committee in due course, following legal procedures. The Ministry of Labour and Employment also reiterated the government’s commitment to setting up the committee.

    When reached for comment, the Special Assistant to the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Rabiu Ibrahim, remarked, “The Federal Government’s agencies pertinent to the matter, notably the Ministry of Labour, are actively engaged in finalizing the procedures to achieve a consensus on all aspects of the issues.”

    Wage award

    Discussing the concept of a living wage, Etuk emphasized the importance of considering various factors such as transportation, housing, health, and education. He highlighted the critical components that would be part of the minimum wage negotiation, including the rising costs associated with transportation and rent. Etuk argued that the previous demand for a N200,000 minimum wage, given inflation rates and essential expenses, might not be realistic.

    He pointed out that negotiations for a living wage had commenced across the 36 states, particularly in response to the removal of fuel subsidy. Etuk emphasized the need for strategic engagement by state branches of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to address socio-economic challenges. Additionally, he urged the federal government to fulfill the memorandum of understanding on the N35,000 wage award.

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