Maputo — Mozambique's largest trade union federation, the OTM (Organisation of Mozambican Workers), warned on Thursday that the increases in the statutory minimum wages approved by the government earlier in the week do not meet workers' needs.
The wage increases varied from 3.15 to just over 20 per cent, depending on area of activity. The largest percentage increase went to agricultural workers - even so their new minimum wage of 2,857 meticais (about 93 US dollars) a month remains the lowest in the country.
The unions' concern about the inadequacy of the minimum wage was expressed in Maputo by the OTM executive secretary for Maputo city and province, Ana Timana, during the commemorations of Mayday, International Workers' Day.
The OTM held its celebrations under the slogan “we demand the exercise of trade union rights in the public administration”.
Although the right to join unions has been in the Mozambican constitution since 1990, there has never been any legal framework for union activity among public servants. A bill establishing union rights in the public service passed its first reading in the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Wednesday, but will not become law until later in the year.
Timana told reporters that there was no justification for workers in the public service not benefitting from unions just like any other group of workers.”We think that this discrimination is unjust”, she said. “We have been asking the government for a long time to pay attention to this segment of workers”.
Timana said that, for the OTM, it is not enough for workers to earn a wage. They must also be guaranteed other, complementary conditions, such as a transport allowance, or the provision by the employer of transport between home and work, medical care, and protective working equipment.
“These and other aspects, could minimize the cost of living”, she said. “The wages, in themselves, are not fundamental”.
During the traditional May Day parade, about 50,000 workers are estimated to have marched through central Maputo to Workers' Square, in front of the main railway station. They demanded decent and fair wages, decent and secure jobs, better working conditions, and an effective government labour and wages policy.