The government has said wages boards will announce the new minimum wage for the private sector next month.
Labour and Employment minister Gaudencia Kabaka revealed in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
Opening a one-day sensitisation seminar on social security industry, she said, there has been delays to announce the new wage scales for the private sector due to various reasons including inadequacy of funds.
The seminar which was organised by Trade Unions Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) in collaboration with Social Security Regulatory Authority (SSRA) attracted over 90 workers’ union representatives countrywide.
She said many workers in the private sector have been complaining about the low wage scales, requesting the government through its sectoral wage boards to upgrade the scale.
It was not easily however established what the actual minimum wage would be, but at the moment it stands at 80,000/-, while workers have proposed that it should be at least 150,000/- a month.
“We have reached a good stage, the wages boards will sit next month and announce the new minimum wage for the private sector,” she insisted.
Minister Kabaka said the wages boards, among their duties, are to examine the minimum wage payment and other employment conditions.
“The major role of the boards as stated in the Labour Institutions Act 2004, Section 36 (1) is to conduct investigations on the minimum wages as well as other employment conditions,” she stated.
Kabaka said the wages boards is also responsible for maintaining agreements between the registered trade unions and employers’ organizations and to advise the Minister on the least wages.
She advised wages board members to consider life expenses, productivity, employers’ capacity and availability of employment opportunities in doing their jobs as stated in various sections of the Labour Institutions Act 2004.
In November 2007, the government announced the minimum wage for private sector workers in the manufacturing sub sector of 80,000/- instead of 150,000/- per month, saying that it would have come to effect beginning January 1, 2008.
The then Minister for Labour, Employment and Youth Development, John Chiligati exempted the labour intensive and export oriented industries from paying the minimum wage of 150,000/- attributing the amendment to the fear of losing external markets to competitors if our exports became too expensive, while labour intensive industries were exempted due to high production costs.
For that reason, he said, industries had to either wind up their businesses or lay off a big number of workers, therefore, to save both workers and employees, the government resorted to adjust the wages.
However, explaining a point on social security schemes in Tanzania, Kabaka said the government intends to increase the number of members so as to improve their livelihoods.
At the moment pension funds have recruited only 1.6 million Tanzanians out of 22million of the active population.
Speaking earlier, the SSRA Director General Irene Isaka said they would continue educating workers on the benefits of social security funds in order to help them protect their interests.
She also said the authority in collaboration with other pension funds intends to increase the number of registered members.
“The amount of registered members is not healthy for the future of many Tanzanians, because when they get older they will not be able to receive any social protection,” Isaka said.
“We want to increase the percentage from the current 3.5 percent to at least 5 percent in the coming two years if all goes well,” she said.
For her part, the acting president of TUCTA, Notigulda Masikini urged the government to harmonise all pension funds so that they provide similar services to all its members.
She further asked the pension funds to review the members’ payment system saying most of them have become outdated.
“The shilling is ever depreciating, inflation is skyrocketing and even the taxes have gone up, these funds should now start paying members according to the value of the shilling,” he stated.
She also said there are some members (particularly teachers) who contribute to two funds at once a thing that is not healthy for most of them.
At the moment, only 3.5 percent of Tanzanians are covered by the funds, while in Kenya coverage is 8 percent and in Uganda is 11 percent.