No consensus on minimum wage

At the end of Wednesday’s meeting of the CCT, Labour Minister Helena Taipo told reporters there were three figures on the table – the unions were calling for a rise of 15.3 per cent, while the employers were unwilling to go any higher than 9.6 per cent. The government had taken an intermediate position of 11.9 per cent. But since the initial figures from 2005 indicated an inflation rate of 14 per cent, the proposals from both the government and the employers, amount to demands for cuts in workers’ real wages. The current minimum wage in industry and services is 1,277,138 meticais (about 51 US dollars) a month. The minimum wage for agricultural workers is substantially lower, at 918,111 meticais a month. Application of the percentages proposed by the three participants in the CCT would result in the following monthly minimum wages, in meticais: Industry/services Agriculture Unions (15.3) 1,472,540 1,058,582 Government (11.9) 1,429,117 1,027,366 Employers (9.6) 1,399,743 1,006,249 The unions’ demand is very modest. Essentially it seeks to restore the purchasing power eroded by last year’s inflation. Even if the unions’ demand were accepted in full, the result would not be a wage on which any family could possibly live. Calculations made by the main union federation, the OTM, show that the current minimum wage will only buy 35 per cent of the bare minimum requirements for an average family. Taipo said that the main disagreement was over the inflation figure to be used in calculating the new minimum wage. The unions want to use accumulated inflation (January to December), whereas the employers want to use the average inflation rate. ‘ AIM.

April 2006
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