Thursday, February 17, 2011

Minimum wage threatens MDG on poverty - Caritas

Minimum wage threatens MDG on poverty - Caritas
By Moses Kuwema and Agness Changala
Thu 17 Feb. 2011, 03:59 CAT

IT will be quite tough for Zambia to achieve the Mille-nnium Development Goals on poverty with the set minimum wage of K419,000, says Caritas Zambia. And Zambia Congress of Trade Unions secretary general Roy Mwaba says the government needs to strengthen the enforcement of labour laws in the country.

In an interview, Caritas Zambia unit head for development Martin Sampa said despite the increase of the minimum wage from K268,000 to the current K419,000, a good number of citizens in the country were still living below the poverty datum line.

“As Caritas Zambia, we would like to acknowledge that the raising of the minimum wage from K268,000, initially, to K419,000 by government, is, in itself a positive step. However, given the rising cost of living as shown by the JCTR Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection basic needs basket for the month of January, 2011, which stands at about K2,000,000, for a family of six in Lusaka, the increase is not sufficient enough,” Sampa said.

He said this was also viewed in light of the fact that people had a lot of financial needs, like paying rentals, school fees, food, settling bills, besides meeting the cost for medicals and transport.

Sampa said the government should tie the minimum wage issue to the JCTR’s basic needs basket.
“The BNB portrays a thorough picture in terms of highlighting the financial requirements for decency in people’s lives. Additionally, it should be ensured that the minimum wage should be applicable to all, especially, those working under informal arrangements and have a weak bargaining power such as domestic workers,” said Sampa.

And Mwaba said the labour movement was also disappointment that good recommendations it made to Parliament on labour matters in the country have not been taken on board.

Mwaba said there was need for the government, civil society organisations, the church and all concerned citizens to sit together and find a way to lobby the government to improve people’s work environment.

And Mwaba said the labour disputes that the country is currently experiencing are worrisome.
“Our expectations and anticipation in this particular area is that everyone should concentrate on ensuring that Zambia runs a free independent tripartite election,” he said.

Mwaba said positive dialogue and not just meetings for the sake of lip service is important if the country is to bring to an end such problems.

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