In Spain minimum wage has been increased by 22% from €736 to €900 (N405,000), effective from January next year.

The announcement was made by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Wednesday 12 December. He said “a rich country cannot have poor workers”.

The Spanish government appear to be taking a cue from France’s president Emmanuel Macron who two days earlier announced a €100 increase in minimum wage from 2019 as the four-straight weeks “gilets jaunes” (Yellow Vests) protests was spiraling out of control.

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It must be said however that Spain’s increase is part of an annual review, although at 22% this is the highest recorded rate of increase in Spain in 40 years.

Lessons for Nigeria

In Nigeria, authorities are still locked in unending negotiation with labour unions to effect a constitutionally mandated minimum wage for every 5 years which was last done in 2011 under the administration of ex-president Goodluck Jonathan.

While the current government appear to have reluctantly agreed to a new minimum wage of a paltry N30,000 or $98 per month (a 60% hike) to avert labour strike back in October, it appears to be dragging its feet with additional bureaucratic bottlenecks.

Many workers in Spain as in some EU countries are paid for 14 months of work, with extra payments in July and December. None of that is applicable to Nigeria.

Nigeria is officially home to the world’s highest number of extremely poor people at 88,364,500 (as at the time of this report) or 44% of the country’s population according to the World Poverty Clock. Analysts want the government to review wages to a living wage and redistribute the wealth of the oil-rich country to help free many of its citizens from the entrampment of poverty.

 

On its part, government of Muhammadu Buhari says it is doing some social intervention programs such as “unconditional cash transfer to the very poor and vulnerable”, but developmental economist Prof Kingsley Moghalu, a presidential candidate under the Young Progressives Party thinks the government intervention is a “joke” and merely a means of “recycling poverty”.

The Labour unions are demanding the new minimum wage take off from 01 January 2019 or it would boycott presidential elections billed for the following month in February.

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