The minimum guaranteed interprofessional wage (Smig) in Benin will be increased by 30% from January 2023. It will rise from 40,000f to 52,000f with guaranteed health insurance for employees. This is at least what we can learn from the meeting held on Tuesday 26 April by President Patrice Talon, the central and trade union confederations and the employers.
The last wage increase in Benin was in 2011 and since 2014 the smig in Benin, which is 40,000 CFA francs, has not moved. It was therefore time for salaries to be reviewed in the light of the high cost of living. Thus, a first meeting starts between trade unions, employers and the executive. The main issue on the agenda was the question of wage increases, including the minimum wage and the hierarchy of wages. It was agreed that the three most representative trade unions, the employers and the government had found a deal on wage increases.
On the issue of the minimum wage
The minimum wage, which has not changed since 2014, will now rise from 40,000 to 52,000 FCFA. It thus increases by 30%, a rate unanimously agreed by all parties present. It should be noted, however, that this increase is accompanied by an obligation for employers to take out health insurance for their low-income employees from January, 1st 2023.
Regarding the automatic prioritisation of salaries
Here, the government has decided to suspend the principle of an automatic salary hierarchy after any increase in the minimum wage in Benin. This is because the executive considers that it is not its responsibility to administer wage adjustments in private companies. It thus leaves it up to each employer to decide according to company policy. The Trade Unions did not agree with this option and referred to the national context which requires this principle to be maintained; this being an important achievement for workers.
The issue of wage increases
A global pot of money will be made available and will be divided between salary increases, improving the situation of AMEs (Aspirants to the Teaching Profession) and recruiting young people. The amount of this fund has not been communicated.
In addition, it should be noted that there are two (02) levels of increase: improvement of the index point to impact both the pensions of pensioners and salaries. And a differentiated increase in wages and pensions in stages so as to impact more strongly on low wages and less strongly on high wages.
The four tiers are 52,000 CFA francs to 100,000 CFA francs; 100,001 CFA francs to 200,000 CFA francs; 200,001 CFA francs to 500,000 CFA francs and 500,001 CFA francs and above. The percentages to be applied to each tier will be discussed at another committee meeting.
The meeting was also attended by the General Secretaries of the three representative trade union confederations, each accompanied by a member of their board. Also present were the presidents of CNP-Benin and CONEB accompanied by a member of their board.
The executive team consisted of the President of the Republic, Patrice Talon, surrounded by the Ministers of State in charge of Development and Finance, the Ministers of Health, Labour, Justice and those in charge of Education. There was also the head of the Analysis and Investigation Board ( AIB).