Ethiopia on the Way towards a Minimum Wage-policy

By Hunde Gudate Gellashe, CETU, Mywage.org/Ethiopia manager

CETU is a national confederation with 9 Industrial Federations comprising all together 1043 trade unions within Ethiopia. CETU has half a million members throughout the country. One of its main communication instruments is its newspaper Yeserategna Dimtsi, or Voice of Workers. This monthly is distributed to all members via the trade unions. It reports on CBA-content and facts regularly.

Since early 2014 the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions (CETU) and WageIndicator have been working jointly on living wage and decent work. Moreover, CETU and WageIndicator cooperate in the collection of Collective Bargaining Agreements, and campaigning for a Minimum Wage-policy by increasing awareness amongst workers, employers and concerned governmental officials, trying to instigate social partners to take op their roles in creating a national Minimum Wage-policy. The Living Wage in Eastern Africa-project, also in Ethiopia, fits well in their deepening cooperation.

No Minimum Wage in Ethiopia

In Ethiopia even people working with a contract in line with the Labour Proclamation No. 377/2003 do not thereby receive a Minimum Wage. One can observe that numerous people, both men and women, who work in hotels, cut-flower plantations, textile, food processing and drinking water plants earn too little to be able to lead decent lives. Many employers and workers and some governmental official’s do not have the concepts or sufficient awareness on the need, essence and the value of a Minimum Wage-policy.

CETU’s Contribution to the ‘Living Wage in Eastern Africa’-project

Given the prevailing lack of both a Minimum Wage and the perception of its need, CETU prioritizes to make employers, employees and government officials aware about the need for a Minimum Wage-policy in support of the workers who presently earn too little. CETU therefore implemented debates and campaigns, using the experience of WageIndicator which it combined with the outreach and strength of its own network. Its activities thus far have been:

  • Organize and conduct debates on the issue of a Minimum Wage-policy
  • Fact-finding debates (that could also help to collect data), collecting CBAs and make information ready for the WageIndicator database
  • 2-day meeting in Dar es Salaam with the WageIndicator CBA-database managers
  • Gathering cost of living-data through the CETU-network and people’s Facebook accounts
  • Translating and printing Decent Work Checks in Amharic
  • Producing and disseminating campaign materials
  • Organize Minimum Wage-campaigns in regional capital cities
  • Project coordination.

 

Result of the First Debates

152 men and 98 women participated in the debates which were primarily meant to sensitize leaders from both trade unions and federations’, and involved CETU-executives, representatives of government and employers, as well as professionals. The main issue debated was: is there enough common ground to formulate a national Minimum Wage-policy supported by social partners? How to design awareness-raising campaigns and how to lobby governmental officials in order to arrive at a Minimum Wage-policy in Ethiopia?

Results:

  • CETU propagated the need of a Minimum Wage-policy to trade union members, employers and government officials;
  • The debates instigated trade union leaders to campaign for a Minimum Wage-policy in Ethiopia;
  • Some government officials, professionals, employers as well as employees are now aware of Minimum Wage-policy concepts and the value of Minimum Wage-setting;
  • Understanding was reached on the need to study how a Minimum Wage-policy in Ethiopia should be formulated and put in action given the socio-economic and political situation in the country;
  • Moreover concerned experts, employers or managers, and Labor Inspectors, were invited to participate in the fact-finding debate and the Minimum Wage-campaigns.

The Impact of Mywage.org in Ethiopia after 2 Years

The Mywage.org website helps individuals who have computer skills and access to networks to participate in living cost data-gathering. Such individuals were targeted mainly in the Food Processing Plants, Hotel Industry, Restaurants and Cafes, Soft Drink Companies, Sugar Companies and Edible Oil Producing Companies. Next to data-gathering, the focus in CETU-outreach to these working individuals was on how to implement the Minimum Wage-campaign and to participate in debates.


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