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National minimum wage an insult to workers

One of the longest serving members of the Simunye Workers Forum says she was very glad when she heard that the SACBC’s Justice and Peace Commission has joined hands with the forum to help underprivileged workers in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors in their struggle for better working conditions and a living wage.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of victimization, she said she joined the forum in 2015 when she was still a casual worker in one of the manufacturing companies in the country.

“I was employed through labour brokers and worked for more than 5 years as a casual worker. It is really hard to get a job through labour brokers because they deduct your salary every month and you are not allowed to join a union. The company can fire you at any time it wants and there is nothing you can do. Labour brokers also encourage companies to fire casual workers who encourage other workers to join labour unions, and as soon as you get out of the company’s premises, they will bring another casual worker to replace you,” she said.

When asked why is she elated that the Justice and Peace Commission is working with the Simunye Workers Forum, she said she believes that they will help workers with legal assistance so that they would be able to fight for better working conditions and a living wage.

“I thank God that I am now a full-time employee and I have joined a labour union. But I still go to the Simunye Workers Forum to encourage others to intensify the fight for the government to barn labour brokers, so that workers can get permanent employment and a living wage. The National Minimum Wage is an insult to workers. Workers pay rent, pay for transport to and from work, buy food and clothes for their families. It is too little to survive in this country,” she said.

She further pointed out that workers are always sexually abused by their superiors and cannot report them for fear of being fired.

“Even when you are a full-time employee, before you get promotion, you have to pay your seniors or sleep with them for you to be considered for promotion, but now working with the Justice and Peace Commission, workers will be able to confront corrupt managers and sexual abusers head on, because sometimes, even labour union bosses are being bought to supress workers” she concluded.

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