The National, Thursday October 10th, 2013
By PETER ESOP WARI
GOVERNMENT, non-government and private organisations in Southern Highlands are not ready to implement the K2.29 hourly wage rate as they can not generate enough income to pay their workers the rate, a business man says.
The main factor hindering the payment was cash flow in the province and most business houses were dependent on public servants’ spending, he said.
The main factors contributing to the cash-flow problem were blamed on poor agricultural activity, no government support and poor road infrastructure. People were moving to other provinces to spend their money.
Lucas Martin, representing business houses and the Southern Highlands chamber of commerce, said if the government set the hourly rate at K2.29 per hour, businesses could not operate.
“We make very little profit and it cannot bring us to another level after two or three years despite the rich resourceful province we have,” he said.
Lucas said he employed 64 workers and when asked how much he paid them, he hesitated to reply, saying he alone would not respond but together with other employers under the Southern Highlands chamber of commerce.
“I spend more than K17,000 a fortnight to pay my employees and when I am not making enough profit how will I increase their fortnight wages under the K2.29 hourly rate set by the minimum wages board?” he asked.
Southern Highlands labour officer Johnson Levi said the employers and the employees in the province were facing problems that they could not explain to each other but had to work to sustain their livelihoods.
“This is the time the different sectors will express their grievances, why they agree or would not agree with the rate and give reasons why they would want the rate to be lower,” Levi said.
“It is a big situation in the province for people to earn money and whatever they are paid, they just accept it without complaints in fear of losing their jobs and business houses are having problems making enough money to comply with the law.”
Chey Scovell, member of the minimum wages board, said: “We came here to know what is exactly there and wanted to know the reasons why you would refuse the rate K2.29 and the type of rate you want.
“We are here to gather information whether the K2.29 is sufficient and problems that are there to make the different sectors to reject the rate.”