Dar es Salaam — The Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (Tucta) has outlined six priorities as the country joins the world in commemorating International Workers' Day tomorrow.
The six priorities include demand for a new minimum wage; harmonising pay as you earn (Paye) among workers, and maintaining dialogue on a new pensions formula.
Others are payment of workers' arrears; workers' right to form, and participate in, trade associations at workplaces, and voluntary agreements among workers across the country.
In that regard, the executive director of the Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE), Dr Aggrey Mlimuka, supported the workers' priorities on almost all scores.
However, he challenged Tucta on the issue of minimum wage, noting that Tanzania no longer announces new minimum wages on May Day.
"The country has adopted new mechanisms requiring minimum wage issues to be initiated by a Minimum Wage Board before tabling proposals with the Labour Advisory Council that has a mandate to advise the minister concerned," Dr Mlimuka said.
But the Tucta secretary general, Dr Yahya Msigwa, told The Citizen in an exclusive interview that an increase in the extant minimum wage is one of Tucta's priorities.
"We haven't released our recent report on minimum wage. But preliminary findings are that it (the minimum wage) should exceed the Sh750,000 (a month) proposed in 2013 in order to support decent living for an employee's family with four children below the age of 18," Dr Msigwa said.
Regarding Paye, he said workers with middle and higher salary grades are inordinately taxed, with some paying 30 per cent of their salaries in tax.
"We have commenced discussions with the government to ensure workers in all salary grades benefit. We are trying to convince employers to increase the minimum amount for Paye deductions to Sh700,000," he said.
Dr Msigwa further said that Tucta is seriously tackling pension issues, with the aim of arriving at a new pensions formula as directed by President John Magufuli on December 28 last year.
In that regard, he called for patience from the workers, stressing that "Tucta is aware of their concerns. But they should be patient as we work to ensure that all workers are covered under one pensions formula."
According to Dr Msigwa, other priorities are the payment of various arrears to workers; increased workers' participation and freedom to form trade unions at workplaces, and the need for signed voluntary working agreements.
However, Dr Mlimuka said ATE supports calls for changes in the present Paye system in order to benefit all workers. To that end, similar proposals based on research they did have been submitted to the tax task force for consideration.
"The present Paye system increases business costs for investors. However, we don't support workers being barred from forming and joining associations at workplaces; this is a right provided for in the Employment and Labour Relations Act, and the country's constitution," he categorically stated.
He also called for amicable resolution to disputes, always avoiding strikes which disrupt the stability that is pivotal to achieving efficiency at the workplace.