Africa commemorates Labor Day with calls for increased minimum wage, jobs

Africa commemorates Labor Day with calls for increased minimum wage, jobs

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa says he will continue to fight for workers and the poor

By Anadolu staff

African leaders on Wednesday pledged to create more jobs and increase the minimum wage as they joined the rest of the world in commemorating International Workers' Day, also known as Labor Day.

Addressing workers in Nairobi, Kenya President William Ruto ordered the Labor and Social Protection Ministry to hold consultations to raise the minimum wage by at least 6%.

Ruto said this is part of the government’s initiative to uplift the welfare of workers. The last minimum wage increase was 12% in 2022, increasing workers' minimum pay to at least Sh15,200.64 ($113), the current rate.

He said the government is working to grow the economy, manage inflation, and stabilize the currency and addressing debt.

“Our economic policies have also lowered the prices of basic goods, easing pressure on workers,” he said.

The Kenyan leader urged doctors who have been striking for two months for better pay and working conditions to end the industrial action, and engage in negotiations with the government in good faith.

"I urge our doctors to listen closely, we've outlined what the government can do, agreeing to 17 out of 19 points, but two are left hanging because of financial constraints," Ruto said.

He said the doctors' strike continues to paralyze health care services across the nation.

- Fair treatment of workers

In Zambia, President Hakainde Hichilema paid tribute to all workers, saying they contribute to the country’s economic prosperity.

He called on employers to treat their workers fairly and encouraged workers to adopt a positive work culture.

Hichilema said the government was dedicated to fostering collaborative efforts among employers, employees and the state to achieve work that delivers tangible results.

“Our government is committed to placing workers at the forefront of economic recovery. In support of this, we encourage businesses to prioritize providing employment and business opportunities to the local population and to invest in essential local infrastructure, such as roads, schools, and healthcare facilities,” he said.

Wellington Chibebe, the country director for the International Labor Organization in Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique, said his organization was resolved to supporting and rebuilding real economies through sustained economic growth and a human-centered approach.

“We also believe that this must be tied to the creation of decent jobs and protection of workers’ rights. In addition, these measures must be climate sensitive and based on a just transition, negotiated by the social partners,” Chibebe said.

Addressing thousands of workers at the Athlone stadium in Cape Town, President Cyril Ramaphosa paid tribute to the historic struggle of workers and their unions in the fight against apartheid in South Africa.

Last month, the country marked 30 years of freedom, since the end of the oppressive and racist white minority rule.

Ramaphosa told workers his government will continue to protect their rights, fight against oppression and exploitation of labor.

“As the African National Congress, we will continue to fight for workers. We will continue to fight for the poor, for those who do not have land, for those who do not have jobs, for those who do not have houses,” said Ramaphosa. South Africa will hold general elections on May 29.

*Writing by Hassan Isilow in Johannesburg, Andrew Wasike in Nairobi, and James Kunda in Lusaka

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