Despite the good effort by the government to increase the minimum wage to P4.20 thebe per hour with effect from this month (May), the set minimum wage has been dismissed as being too low.
The rationale of setting a minimum wage for the sectors of construction, exploration, quarry industries, hotel and catering is to avoid exploitation that has been witnessed over the years.
However, with the increasing cost of living, the underlying principle has become futile.
“This comes as a wakeup call to the different sectors such as construction, exploration, quarry industries, hotel and catering to organise themselves into unions and be in a position to negotiate their wages,” said Masego Mogwera, the President for the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BOFEPUSU). Mogwera said, in addition to what has been set by the government and if the different sectors are organized, they have the platform to further negotiate the minimum wage.
“The increased wages are just too low as compared to the unrelenting rise in the cost of living, including food, rent, transport and essential utilities,” she said. She said even after the review, the newly announced minimum wage could never be enough to meet the average citizen’s basic needs.
It has become the tendency of most employers to abide by this set minimum wage in spite of them reaping off huge profits.
“It is, therefore, important that employers do not hide behind the stipulated amount but also consider paying over the minimum wage where they can,” she said.
Mogwera said the prevailing situation is similar to the food for work programmes ‘Ipelegeng’ because the wages are too low. She pointed out that through their Unions they will be able to send their message to the government to consider increasing the standard minimum rates and this will be of benefit to them.
“The people in these sectors should ask themselves if what they are earning is worth the service they render,” she said.
Mogwera urged the employees in these sectors to desist from this carefree attitude and demand what is worth their labour.