The Cameroonian government has revalued the Guaranteed Interprofessional Minimum Wage (Smig). This is through a decree signed by Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute on Tuesday 21 March 2023. In view of the divergences that arose during the discussions between the State and the trade unions and employers’ organisations, the executive has introduced three different levels of minimum wage, depending on the sector of activity.
This is the first time the government has formalised three separate minimum wages in the country. Thus, starting from 22 March 2023, the minimum wage for government employees covered by the Labour Code will be 41,875 FCFA per month. For employees in the agricultural and related sectors, the minimum wage has increased to 45,000 FCFA per month. The third category includes all workers in other sectors of activity, different from those mentioned above, and will be subject to a minimum monthly pay of 60,000 FCFA.
Moreover, these different amounts for the minimum wage are the result of several months of negotiations between the government and the trade unions and employers’ organisations. Indeed, the State had proposed a single amount of 41,875 FCFA for all workers. This was done as a supporting measure to reduce the impact of rising fuel prices on the purchasing power of the population. However, the unions categorically refused, with a proposal of a minimum of 60,000 CFA francs on the negotiating table.
In addition, in order to force the government to adopt the minimum amount of 60,000 CFA francs as a single minimum wage for all workers, some fifteen unions within the Cameroon Workers Forum had called a walkout last February. A call that was not heeded.
Also, it should be noted that in Cameroon, the last revaluation of the Smig dates back to 24 July 2014 when the minimum wage was set at 36,270 FCFA. These changes are taking place in a context of poverty marked by widespread inflation caused by the increase in fuel prices enacted on 31 January 2023.