Mozambique: Tourist Operators Violate Labour Legislation

Maputo — The Labour Inspectorate in the Mozambican Labour Ministry has detected 286 cases of violations of the country's labour legislation in tourist establishments in the Ponta de Ouro region, in the far south of the country, according to a report in the daily paper "Diario de Mocambique".

In May, when President Armando Guebuza visited Ponta do Ouro, as part of his "open and inclusive presidency" local residents took the opportunity to complain at blatant illegalities committed by tourism employers.

An investigation was ordered, and a joint team from the Labour Inspectorate and the Economic Activities Inspectorate spent 10 days visiting 53 hotels and other tourist establishments, which employ a total of 1,003 workers.

According to Olga Manjate, the Maputo Provincial Director of Labour, 63 cases were found where employers violated the eight hour working day provision of the Labour Law. The normal working day is eight hours long, and the law states that anything above eight hours is overtime and involves additional payments to the workers.

The inspectors also found 29 cases where the employers had not taken out any insurance against accidents at work. Some of the establishments lacked safety and hygiene equipment, and some did not pay extra for night shifts.

Some employers did not pay their workers in the local currency, the metical, but in South African rands. Fluctuating exchange rates make this a very bad deal. Thus in late 2010, one rand could buy over five meticais - but today the rate quoted by the Bank of Mozambique is 3.4 meticais to the rand.

Manjate said that, of the 286 violations, 92 led to fines. In the other 194 cases, the employers were given warnings. "I should stress that the purpose of the inspection was not to punish, but to educate", she said.

Some of the employers claimed ignorance of the law as an explanation for breaking it. To ensure no repetition, the inspectors left two copies of the Labour Law in each establishment - one for the employer, and one for the workers.

The inspectors also suspended 15 foreigners who were working illegally. They were all given deadlines to regularize their situation.

"We are not trying to frighten investors away, but we want them to comply with Mozambican law", said Manjate.

She said her directorate would continue to inspect labour practices in Ponta do Ouro, since it was not tolerable for Mozambicans to be ill-treated in their own country by foreign employers.

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