Set up Minimum Wage System, Rights Commission urges Govt

ADDIS ABABA – The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has urged the government to set up a minimum wage scheme ahead of the International workers’ Day. 

The Commission has also the called forthe establishment of the Wage Board as per the 2019 Labour Proclamation.

The Commission in a statement today said iy recognized “some of the steps” taken towards the establishment of the minimum wage system. including a legislative framework to set up a Wage Board.

Implementing these measures should now be prioritized, EHRC said.

The Wage Board proposed in the 2019 Labour Proclamation would have trade unions and civil society stakeholders as its members.

It is tasked to revise minimum wage based on studies taking the country’s economic development, labor market and other conditions into account.

A draft minimum wage law has already been submitted to the Council of Ministers for its deliberation and endorsement.

‘Insufficient average wage’

The commission says it has already conducted “several months” long monitoring in major industrial parks, last year.

As per the findings of its assessment, “the average monthly wage remains insufficient to guarantee the right to an adequate standard of living.”

The Commission said its findings confirms previous UN ILO’s studies which claimed that close to “half of the employed people in Ethiopia are poor”.

The workers are also facing the pressure of the growing inflation that has increased by close to 35% in 2022. The nationwide salary scales have not been revised since 2017.

The minimum wage, it says, is “a requisite for the realization of many key elements of the right to work such as a safe and just work environment, rest, leisure and limitation of working time.”

Recognizes Challenges but…

The EHRC’s call for a minimum wage system, however, comes at a time when the country is facing several challenges that put job security of many workers at risk.

The recent U.S. decision to ban Ethiopia from the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), alone has put 200, 000 jobs created in the industrial parks and a million more in a supply chain at risk.

The Commission said it is cognizant of reports of difficulties, including direct and indirect impact of the removal of Ethiopia from the AGOA list, global context, insecurity, bureaucratic hurdles, and other socio-economic factors.

However, it said the government also has a duty to “protect against human rights abuse and violation by third parties,” and “ensure businesses are socially sustainable”.

“While minimum wage is not a panacea to all the problems that workers are facing in Ethiopia, it is a crucial step,” said EHRC Chief Commissioner Dr. Daniel Bekele.

The commissioner also said it can also ”ensure decent living for the workers and their families, in particular, if it is coupled with other necessary socio-economic measures”.


Featured Image Caption: Women workers arriving at the factory in Hawassa Industrial Park. The park has attracted several foreign investors textile sector and created tens of thousands of jobs. [Photo File]