Friday, September 18, 2020

Non-Citizens still lead on pay

Formal sector employment showed sluggish growth in the last quarter of 2017, while average earnings also got a slight increase.

Statistics Botswana’s most recent labour statistics show that formal sector employment was up 0.3 percent in fourth quarter of the previous year, bringing overall employment 410,329. The sluggish growth was on the back of new hires in local government, followed by private sector. On the other hand, cash strapped parastatals reported a 0.1 percent decline of labour force.

The slight increase in employment figures flies in the face of much reported massive jobs losses that followed when BCL mines were put under provisional liquidation in October last year. The current Botswana Statistics’ formal sector employment survey was carried out within that period of job losses, from October to December.

Private sector has the largest share of total labour force, accounting for 47.2 percent. Coming second is the central government (25.4 percent), local government (22.7 percent) and parastatals at 4.7 percent.

Of the overall employment, non-citizen workers were recorded at 11,280, representing 2.7 percent. Majority of them are employed by the private sector, with the construction industry leading the pack at 22.8 percent, education (17.3 percent) and manufacturing industry (16.1 percent).

Despite their small number relative to the total workforce, non-citizens earn almost three times than citizen workers. The latest data set shows that non-citizen pocket on average P18,420 monthly while citizens take home P5,871, bringing the total monthly average salary to P6, 216, an improvement of 2.1 percent . On quarterly comparison basis, non-citizens pay spiked 6.1 percent from the last survey done in September while citizens’ pay increased slightly by 2.2 percent.

Remuneration structure has been a hotbed of controversy in Botswana, with most Botswana complaining of low wages that have shown little growth over the years. Most hit has been workers from low level skills industries that pay using minimum wage. Latest data from the statistics bureau show that the highest hourly rate is P5.79, effectively meaning that the minimum wage workers are roughly getting less than P1000 monthly, a stark difference from the supposed monthly average earnings of P6, 216.

Last month, members of parliament voted against the motion that proposed replacing minimum wage with the living wage policy. The motion brought by Shaun Nthaile sought to address the disparity between minimum wage and the ever rising costs of living. Nthaile presented that the living wage will allow people to lead decent lives as it estimates the cost of living and makes provisions for day to day living. While the minimum wages are laid down in law and enforceable, the living wages are not prescribed by law and therefore cannot be legally enforced.

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