African countries urged to take more measures in building continental free trade area
Mozambican Labour Minister Vitoria Diogo on Friday urged the Labour Consultative Commission (CCT) to negotiate the new statutory minimum wage rigorously and in good faith, so as to reach proposals that satisfy all sides.
The CCT is the tripartite negotiating forum between the government, the trade unions and the employers. Every year it negotiates a set of new minimum wages, which it then proposes to the government. The new minimum wages take effect as from 1 April.
Opening the first meeting of the CCT this year, Diogo called on CCT members to negotiate “with responsibility” in order “to reach balanced and consensual results”.
She said the negotiations must always take into consideration the real situation of the country, and the need to keep companies open, defend existing jobs, and create new companies. She claimed there is an interdependence between employers and workers. “One side does not exist without the other”, she said. “There are no winners and no losers”.
“I am convinced that we shall continue to act in a thoughtful manner and, above all, with a high sense of patriotism and realism”, continued Diogo. “Our central goals are better jobs, keeping jobs, improving the living conditions of workers and their families, and the prosperity of the companies”.
“Adjusting” the minimum wage, she added, should favour an increase in productivity, in the profitability of companies and in the competitiveness of the Mozambican economy.
Diogo announced that about 361,000 jobs should be created this year. Even if this figure is accurate, it is not enough – for projections from the 2007 census show that well over half a million young Mozambicans reach the age of 18 this year , and thus enter the labour market.
The general secretary of the main trade union federation, the OTM, Alexandre Munguambe, said the debate must take into account such factors as the recent rise in public transport fares (which went up by between 33 and 42 per cent in Greater Maputo).
The minimum wage should rise by at least that much, said Munguambe, “otherwise problems will be created with undesirable consequences”.