Minimum Wage: Amid Hardship, Workers’ Hopes For Pay Rise By May Day Dashed

There are strong indications that workers will wait for a longer time to receive a new national minimum wage as negotiations have stalled amid excruciating economic hardship and mass suffering in the country.

In fact, the delay is allegedly caused by the Federal Government.

This came as Abia, Taraba and Zamfara states are allegedly still in breach of the 2019 National Minimum Wage Act which fixed minimum wage at N30,000 from the previous N18,000.

The implication of the stalled negotiations is that workers’ hopes for a pay rise ahead of the 2024 May Day scheduled for Wednesday have been dashed.

The new minimum wage ought to have taken effect on April 1, 2024, the old regime having expired on March 31.


Sunday Vanguard’s checks revealed that the last meeting of the Tripartite Committee on the New National Minimum Wage, TCNMW, tasked with fixing the new wage, was held in the first week of April where stakeholders received the reports of the public hearings across the six geographical zones held on Thursday, March 7, 2024.

It was, however, gathered that the subcommittees have been meeting on other issues as directed by the TCNMW.

According to findings, at the first week of April meeting, members of the committee, that is, the government, labour and private sector employers, were directed to submit their written proposals to the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, NSIWC, which serves as the secretariat to the TCNMW.

Sources informed that while Organised Labour, comprising Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and its Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, counterpart, has sent in its demand of N615,000 minimum wages, the Organised Private Sector, OPS, has equally sent in its proposal.

However, it could not be confirmed if the government has sent in its proposal.


Sunday Vanguard gathered that after the TCNMW received the reports of the public hearings, the NSIWC fixed April 16 and 17 as meeting dates for a review of the reports and probably commence negotiations, but, unfortunately, the dates turned out to be public holidays for Sallah celebrations.

Since then, Sunday Vanguard learnt that it (NSIWC) has not fixed a new date for a meeting where the actual negotiations would start.

Blaming the government for the delay, one of the labour leaders, who is a member of the TCNMW, said until the government through the NSIWC summons a meeting, nothing could be done.

He said: “The last meeting was in the first week of April when we met to receive the reports of the zonal public hearings.

“It was essentially to collate reports from the zones. We as Organised Labour, that is, the NLC and TUC, have sent in a joint proposal or demand if you like.

“We are aware that the OPS has equally sent in its proposal. We are all waiting for the reconvening of TCNMW meeting to know what the government is putting on the table for us to begin negotiations.

“But that is not to say we have been doing nothing or we have been idle. The various subcommittees, in line with the mandate of the main committee, have been working. We have a lot to discuss and negotiate about.

“The hike in electricity tariff is now an important factor. We had sent in our demand before the increase in electricity tariff.

“To worsen matters, the increase was done without stakeholders’ inputs contrary to the enabling Act. In other words, we were not consulted as required by law.

“All these issues will determine when and how long the negotiations will last. One thing is clear, no matter how long the negotiations take, the new minimum wage will definitely take effect by April 2024. Meaning the law will be backdated to April 2024. The implication is that a new minimum wage can’t be announced on May Day.”

Speaking also, the Director-General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, NECA, Adewale Smart-Oyerinde said a new minimum wage cannot be announced on May 1.

“We have not actually started real negotiations. The last meeting we had was when we received reports of the public hearings”, he told Sunday Vanguard.

“We were asked to send our proposals to the secretariat of the committee. We have done that as an Organised Private Sector, OPS. We believe others have sent in theirs. We are waiting for the reconvening of the committee for the negotiations to start. We are ready for the negotiations.”


It was gathered, however, that parties are busy collating data across states, sectors and socioeconomic trends ahead of the commencement of negotiations.

A member of the OPS, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he foresees very robust and interesting negotiations because of the socioeconomic realities on the ground.

He said “As the socioeconomic realities affect workers, so also they affect employers. Nobody is immune to the hardships and socioeconomic realities including the recent hike in electricity tariff. So, the negotiations will be very interesting and robust.”

On his part, the immediate past President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, who spoke on the delay in concluding the minimum wage negotiations and non-implementation of the minimum wage by some state governments and private sector employers, said “The Minimum Wage Act of 2019 made clear provision on when negotiations should start and be concluded, which is six months to the expiration of a prevailing national minimum wage.

“Also there was a clear provision for enforcement in a court of law including payment of interest rate to the workers that have been denied payment of minimum wage.

“Before I left office in 2023, we had contacted Mr Femi Kuti, SAN, to prosecute Taraba, Zamfara and Abia states that refused to start implementing the N30,000 national minimum wage to any of their employees.

“I am sure they have not implemented as we speak.”

According to him, the process for taking these states to court was stalled because the affected state councils failed to provide the requirements especially pay slips of not less than 10 workers to prove non-implementation.

He added “Then-governors of the three states deliberately refused to implement and we were ready to engage them and test the law.

“We need to test the law to enforce implementation. In fact, we had to sack our state council chairman in one of the states when we discovered that he was conniving with the state government to stall implementation.”

Labour mulls upward review of proposal

Meanwhile, Sunday Vanguard understands that Organised Labour may present a new minimum wage demand following the recent hike in electricity tariff by the Federal Government.

According to sources, the 300 per cent jerk up in electricity tariff has made nonsense of its earlier N615,000 benchmark wage demand.

The Labour centres, NLC and TUC, had, last month, presented a joint minimum wage demand to the TCNMW through the NSIWC.

The joint presentation is contrary to what they (NLC and TUC leaders in the zones) proposed during March 7, 2024, zonal public hearings organised by the TCNMW across four of the six geo-political zones of the country.

One of the sources said: “The recent hike in electricity tariff has made nonsense of the demand we presented to the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission which is the secretariat of the minimum wage committee.

“Both centres had met in March to harmonise our different demands as seen during the public hearings and made a joint demand.

“But with the 300 per cent increase in electricity tariff, our demand is no longer realistic. Therefore, we plan to adjust our demand to accommodate the new tariff hike.

“As you are aware, our demand was based on the socioeconomic indices on the ground at the time we made the demand. But things have changed as typified by the 300 per cent hike in electricity tariff by the government.

“So, we have to adjust our demand by 300 per cent in line with the electricity tariff hike.”

N850,000 wage

Recall that while the TUC demanded almost a uniform figure of N447,000 across the zones, the NLC demanded different figures for each zone with the highest being N850,000.

In the South-West, whereas leaders of the NLC proposed N794,000, those of the TUC proposed N497,000.

In the South-East, the NLC said it preferred the new minimum wage to be N540, 000 and the TUC suggested N447,000.

However, NLC leaders in the South-South proposed N850,000, with their North-West counterparts angling for N485,000 minimum wage.

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