Maputo — Mozambique's main trade union federation, the OTM (Organisation of Mozambican Workers) has called for the resumption of negotiations over this year's increase in the minimum wages.
Every year the Labour Consultative Commission (CCT), the tripartite forum between the government, the unions and the employers' associations, negotiates increases in the minimum wages for each sector of activity, which normally take effect as from 1 April.
But this year the CCT negotiations were interrupted in March, because of the Covid-19 pandemic. No date has been set for resuming the talks. As a result wages have effectively been frozen.
Now the restrictive measures imposed under the state of emergency that was in force for five month are being gradually relaxed, and the unions believe it is time to return to the negotiating table.
Speaking on Friday, when he left a meeting of the Coordinating Council of the Labour Ministry, the OTM General Secretary, Alexandre Munguambe, told reporters "we said we were suspending the negotiations, because we were faced with a totally unknown disease. But now we know the disease. Now there is a new normal decreed by the head of state, in order to put the economy to work again, and so we have to restart the discussions".
He said the OTM wants to know from the government whether the conditions which dictated the suspension of the negotiations still persist. Munguambe pointed out that negotiating minimum wages sector by sector was intended to reward those working in the most productive sectors of the economy, and that in some sectors production has doubled in order to meet the needs of the moment.
He believed the time had come for the CCT to resume its meetings, because the discussions on increasing the minimum wages "were suspended, and not cancelled".
"The workers who are involved in production right now, are demanding that their wages be raised this year", he said. "It doesn't matter how much time is left before the end of the year. We are saying that we have to sit at the table and discuss this point, which is worrying the workers. We cannot let 2020 be wiped out like this".