October 7, 2010

OTM warns against amending the Labour Law

Mozambique's largest trade union federation, the OTM, has come out against amending the 2007 Labour Law, despite its own hostility towards some sections of the law. The OTM was angered that the law took away workers' rights enshrined in earlier legislation, particularly by cutting redundancy pay entitlements. But it fears that any amendment to the law, as demanded by employers, would simply erode workers' rights still further.

The OTM Secretary-General, Alexandre Munguambe, in a message to the country's workers on the occasion of the 34th anniversary of the creation of the Mozambican trade union movement, warned "we cannot revise the law just to satisfy one sector of society in order to accommodate interests that it was unable to put into the law the last time it was revised". They wanted workers to be treated like disposable produce that can be thrown out whenever the employer wants, he added - and the OTM would not allow this to happen. "We recognise that the new law took several rights away from workers", he said. "It is precarious. But we cannot accept that this sector of society wants to legalise the removal of workers without paying them anything on the grounds that Mozambicans have no culture of work".

Munguambe declared that, while there might indeed by Mozambicans who have no cuilture of work, there were certainly employers who had no culture of paying their worlers a decent wage. He pointed out that there are still companies who do not pay their workforce even the statutory minimum wage, who refuse to negotiate with trade union committees, and who deduct social security contributions from workers' wages - but then do not send the money on to the National Social Security Institute (INSS), thus depriving workers of the benefits to which they are entitled. He also recalled that he had warned about the impact of price rises in his seech at the Maputo May Day rally this year - but the government did not take any measures to put the brakes on the cost of living until riots over price increases shook Maputo and the neighbouring city of Matola on 1-2 September. He recgnised that there are currents of thought that criticise the trade unions for not leading the September riots. But he argued that the OTM did not want to join the rioters "because we only take orders from the workers".

With rising prices, the minimum wage is far from meeting even the basic needs of workers, Munguambe said. The OTM would thus continue to negotiate with its "social partners" (i.e. the government and the employers' organisations) in order "to identify and implement measures tending to mitigate problems arising from the cost of living".
The OTM, which brings together 16 national trade unions, is commemorating its 34th anniversary under the slogan "Together in the Struggle against Poverty and in Search of Solutions and Strategies to reduce the Cost of Living". (AIM)

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