16 March 2017

Mozambique: Bus Workers Threaten Strike Action

Maputo — Workers of the Maputo municipal bus company (EMTPM) have threatened to go on strike as from Monday, reports the independent television station STV.

The workers want the restoration of money discounted from their wages in January, and a clear explanation of why they have not been paid the traditional New Year bonus.

This bonus, known as “the thirteenth month”, is equivalent to an extra month's wages, and for many years it had been paid almost as a matter of routine in both public and private sectors. But in 2016, the Ministry of Economy and Finance announced that the money was simply not available to pay the full thirteenth month to state employees. Instead, 50 per cent of the bonus was paid to most state workers, but nothing at all to the senior ranks.

EMTPM, however, is no longer a state concern, but is owned by Maputo Municipal Council, and so the payment or not of a bonus is a municipal decision. Some municipalities boasted that they had managed their finances so well that they could afford to pay the full thirteenth month to all their workers (the cases of Beira and Pemba councils, for example). But most did not.

When it was a publicly-owned company, EMTPM enjoyed a state subsidy - but that is no longer the case.

The workers complain that several allowances have been cut from their wage packets, including the night shift allowance, the holiday allowance, and even overtime pay (if overtime is no longer being paid, that is a clear violation of Mozambican labour legislation).

The company is also no longer providing transport home for workers whose shift ends at midnight, or transport to work for those who should clock on at 04.00.

The trade union committee has demanded immediate negotiations on these points, and warns that, if nothing is done, the strike will go ahead on Monday morning.

The EMTPM management has so far made no public response to the workers' grievances.

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