Labour Threatens Strike Over Minimum Wage

The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has issued a stern warning about potential industrial action due to delays in establishing a committee to discuss the new minimum wage for public sector workers.

The Federal Government’s inertia in naming its representatives to the committee has been a primary cause for concern, particularly as labour unions have declared their readiness to commence negotiations.


This development comes amidst growing frustrations among workers grappling with the surging cost of living.

Since the removal of the fuel subsidy by the Federal Government, there has been a significant increase in the prices of goods and services, leading to rampant inflation.

The impact has been profound, with workers finding their current wages insufficient to cover basic needs.
In June 2023, a group of workers and labour leaders called for a substantial increase in the minimum wage, from N30,000 to N250,000, citing the dire economic situation.

This figure was later adjusted to N200,000.

The Assistant General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Chris Onyeka, highlighted the plight of many workers who are struggling to pay rent and school fees for their children.

He also noted the dramatic 300% increase in transportation costs, forcing many civil servants to walk to work.

President, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had earlier pledged to prioritize the improvement of living conditions for Nigerians, with a focus on people-centric economic policies.

He assured that the national minimum wage would be reviewed to reflect the current economic realities.

Despite these promises, the hardship for Nigerian workers continues, exacerbated by soaring inflation.

The last minimum wage revision was on April 18, 2019, from N18,000 to N30,000. However, implementation has been uneven across the 36 states, with several yet to comply with the new minimum wage.


The then-Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, emphasized the necessity for all employers in the country to adhere to this national law.

He mentioned that a committee was being formed to propose new wage adjustments for those earning above N30,000.

The TUC expressing its impatience with the government’s slow response, has threatened to launch a strike if the issue is not addressed with urgency.

The Deputy President of the TUC, Tommy Etuk, expressed dissatisfaction in an interview with Punch, stressing the overdue need for a new minimum wage, which was expected by April 2024.

The TUC and other labour organizations have already appointed representatives for the National Minimum Wage Review Committee, which is legally tasked with overseeing negotiations and advising the government on suitable wage rates in line with economic changes.

He said, “If there is no agreement on the minimum wage review, there’s nothing anyone can do. I assure you that it is a recipe for industrial disharmony. The government should inaugurate the committee and let it start work on time to see some grey areas where we can agree or disagree, and work in tandem with the principle of collective bargaining so that we can arrive at a collective agreement.

“We believe it’s the best option rather than waiting for the 11th hour to decide what to give to the organised labour. It will not work that way.”
Etuk added that the right thing for the Federal Government to do was to set up the National Minimum Wage Committee to oversee the modalities across the board.

He said, “The National Minimum Wage Committee should have been inaugurated because the task ahead is a difficult one. It’s not about getting the committee in place and there is a lot to be done. It is about the government to inaugurate the committee and appoint a chairman so that they can start work in earnest.

“April is around the corner, and if things are not done this January, things might get out of hand. This isn’t going to be a fire brigade matter like they always do.
“But I can assure you that the organised labour will not leave any stone unturned to ensure that the needful is done. Whether it is a delay strategy on the part of the government, or not, we have got to follow due process, because it is a matter of law.

“This is because it will go to the National Assembly and the President before it becomes a law.


“The government is conscious of this, and on our part, we’ve done what we should’ve done. It’s just for them to inaugurate the committee and the committee will start working.”

Etuk added that Tinubu seemed like a man who would not play with the welfare of workers since he had been talking about living wage before he became President.
Speaking on the living wage, Etuk said a lot of things must be considered such as transportation, housing, health and education.

He said, “These are critical components that will form the negotiation for minimum wage. With what’s going on now, it’s not even enough. In a month, a worker will spend not less than N70,000 on transportation. We’ve not even spoken of rent where a one-bedroom apartment goes for about N400,000.

“When you consider all these and look at the negotiation of the N200,000 minimum wage that was then. It’s no longer realistic to look at the inflation rate, which is 28.9 per cent as of today.
“Whatever is being given as minimum wage is to be consumed by inflation. Even the N200,000 being clamoured by organised labour, I don’t think that is the right thing to do. This wage doesn’t cover the National Health Scheme and you don’t expect a worker to die because of cancer or another life-threatening disease.

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