Eswatini Daily News

By Ntombi Mhlongo

Members of Parliament (MPs) have called upon the government to set guidelines that will propel foreign direct investors to pay emaSwati meaningful wages.

The MPs, during a debate for the Annual Performance Report of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, said while it was good that more investors are showing interest to come to the country, the issue of the wages they then pay should not be ignored.

Mtfongwaneni MP Roy Fanourakis said investors, especially in the construction and textile sector have made it a habit to pay emaSwati meagre salaries yet their businesses generated millions.

Read More: Finding a decent job could be harder in 2023, ILO warns

“The wages paid to emaSwati make their lives worse and this contributes to the poverty situation,” the MP said.

He said both the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and that of Commerce, Industry and Trade need to sit down and discuss the issue as most of the affected people worked in sectors that fall under these ministries.

Responding to the MPs, Minister of Labour and Social Security Phila Buthelezi gave assurance that the government was doing something.

Then minister informed the MPs that he was set to announce a new wages Council whose mandate would be to deal with the minimum wages issue.

Read More: Textile Workers’ Anguish In Eswatini

He concurred that with the rise in the cost of living, the existing wage structures needed to be reviewed. The calls by the MPs have come at an opportune time when the government is pushing hard to complete the legislative reform processes of the Employment Bill and Industrial Relations Act.

Different entities, including Business Eswatini (BE), have always called upon the government to make it a point that companies paid a fair minimum wage to employees.

In recent years, the textile sector has been the most affected and this has seen trade unions taking to the streets to demand better pay. Currently, a textile worker earns between E331-E710 per week, depending on trade.

Meanwhile, Eswatini currently ranks lowest with regards regard to the average minimum wage per month in the region.

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