(AA) – As Ethiopian workers marked the Labor Day on Friday, the main labor union in Ethiopia has called on the government to set a minimum wage for workers in the country.
“The working wages set for employees vary from industry to industry and they are insufficient to lead a [decent] life,” Kassahun Folo, President of the Confederation of Ethiopian Workers Unions (CETU), told The Anadolu Agency.
He said salaries of employees are often set by the companies.
“The wage they set is usually very low,” Kassahun said.
“Employees working for industries are facing drudging working conditions and are earning a very low wage, as they do not have other options,” he said.
Kassahun accused foreign companies of not allowing workers to organize.
“Some foreign industries do not allow workers to organize and they offer them low payment,” he said.
“We are working with employers on the need to form workers’ unions and devise ways to improve the amount of wages,” he added.
Industry Ministry spokesperson Melaku Taye, for his part, said the government will not intervene to set a minimum wage for workers.
“We would not involve in setting minimum wages for industry workers whether the industries are owned by foreigners or Ethiopians,” he said.
“We don’t want to regulate wages as such intervention is contrary to our free market economic policies,” Melaku said.
According to the spokesperson, the ministry can work to enhance the technical and knowhow capacities of employees to encourage employers to pay more as per improved performances.
Melaku said the government has attached prime attention to manufacturing industries, which are believed to create abundant job opportunities.
Currently, the manufacturing industry sector has created 313,000 jobs.
Some 24 percent of the beneficiaries are females.
According to the Industry Minister, the manufacturing sector has grown by 4.4 percent last year.
The export earnings from manufacturing industries hit $397,935 in 2014.
The contribution of industries to Ethiopia’s national economy is projected to be about 21.4 percent by the end of the country’s five-year development plan, which began in 2011.