GOVERNMENT HAS announced it is considering fixing a new minimum wage before the end of the year to replace the one set way back in 1974.
This is good news for workers who have had to contend with an outdated legislation that subjects them to be paid as low as Rwf300 a day in wages. Needless to say, over the last 40 years, the labour market has undergone a lot of changes.
The cost of living has gone up as a result of inflation, among other factors. The private sector has grown by leaps and bounds to become the biggest employer in the country.
However, exploitation of workers, especially in the private sector, has been commonplace in labour market over the years. Some employees are still paid wages far below the minimal cost of living and their labour input.
The 1974 Labour Law that set the minimum wage at Rwf100 per day is still in force, making it an easy scapegoat for some employers to exploit workers.
Labour unions have for long grappled with the issue of exploitation of workers and it is hoped the new minimum wage law will put this problem to an end.
In light of all these factors, a new minimum wage that reflects the current labour trends and needs of the respective sectors/ professions is necessary.
There has been general growth in the economy over the last 20 years and this should reflect in the wages paid to the workers.
However, wide consultations should be done with all the key stakeholders in the labour industry before the proposed amendments are effected. Employers, the private sector federation, trade unions and the civil society should all be engaged.
Over 104,000 jobs are said to be created every year with Government targeting to create at least 200,000 new off-farm jobs per year. It is important that as more people enter the world of work, the working conditions and the wages should be realistic in line with the current cost of living.