Mozambique: Minimum Wage Negotiations Resume

Maputo — The Labour Consultative Commission (CCT), the tripartite negotiating forum between the Mozambican government, the trade unions, and the employers' associations, on Friday resumed discussions about increasing the statutory minimum wage.

According to the spokesperson for the meeting, Emidio Mavila, the CCT, in addition to the minimum wage, will also analyse the performance of the National Social Security Institute (INSS), and the performance of the labour administration institutions, including the mediation and arbitration commission.

"The government and its partners will reflect on the opportunity to resume negotiations to revise the minimum wages for 2021", said Mavila, at the opening of the CCT session "and to analyse the employment policy for the present five year period".

The representative of the country's main trade union federation, the OTM (Mozambican Workers' Organisation), Damiao Simango, said the country's workers wanted to see the question of the increase of the minimum wage definitively resolved.

He admitted that there might not be time to increase the minimum wage this year "but we can start reflecting on what can be done next year. It must be recognised that the workers are going through difficulties, and those difficulties must be shared".

The head of labour policy for the Confederation of Business Associations (CTA), Antonio de Sousa, recognised the difficulties facing workers on low wages, but claimed that nothing can be done this year. He wanted 2020 to be regarded as "year zero", and all the discussions to be held in 2021.

The minimum wage is normally discussed in the first quarter of every year in the CCT.

This year the negotiations began on 18 March, but the pandemic was used as an excuse to interrupt the talks. Labour Minister Margarida Talapa announced that the members of the CCT, "assessed the situation and agreed to suspend immediately the negotiations on the national minimum wages for this year".

There is no national minimum wage. Instead the wages are negotiated sector by sector. The OTM calculated in 2019 that to provide a basic basket of goods and services for an average family, a minimum monthly wage of 19,600 meticais (265 US dollars, at current exchange rates).

The monthly minimum wages agreed in 2019 came nowhere near 19,600 meticais. They ranged from 4,266 meticais for fishery workers on Lake Cahora Bassa in Tete province, to 12,760 meticais for workers in banking, insurance and other financial services. The minimum wage for public sector workers was just 4,467 meticais a month.

Workers are now being asked to forego any increase in the minimum wages for an entire year, which will inevitably result in increased poverty.

The CCT only discusses the minimum wage. Anything above the minimum is a matter for collective bargaining between unions and employers in each company or workplace. More enlightened employers tend to pay their workers more than the statutory minimum, and there is nothing to prevent companies paying workers more this year.

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