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Fight for decent wages continues

2 June, 2023Workers everywhere need a pay rise that reflects the inflation rate and the sacrifices made during the Covid pandemic, which many are still recovering from. They need wages that reflect their essential part in value creation. Trade unions play a key role in ensuring that workers receive decent wages. 

Wages are one of the conditions of work that have the most direct effect on the everyday life of workers. A regular and adequate pay rise can be used as a means of reducing inequality, increasing demands, and contributing to economic stability. 

In May, Indian unions successfully negotiated with the Coal India management and secured a 19 per cent wage increase and a 25 per cent increase in allowances. The Joint Bipartite Committee on Coal Industry (JBCCI- XI) comprising central trade unions and management of Coal India Limited (CIL) signed the eleventh national coal wage agreement (NCWA- XI). The agreement is valid for a period of five years. Around 280,000 permanent workers of CIL and its subsidiaries, and the Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) will benefit from the agreement.

Unions at Chinese-owned ZiJin Bor copper mine in Serbia signed a collective agreement with a 15 per cent wage increase. In the new agreement wages will increase from RSD177 (US$1,6) to RSD192 (US$1,7) per hour. A payment of 4,000 dinars (US$36) was also included in the basic salary. The company agreed to leave the existing CBA in place as a result of a strong demonstration of solidarity among all unions in the workplace.

In July last year, South African unions, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), signed a wage deal with electricity supplier Eskom. The deal, which was signed at the Central Bargaining Forum (CBF), included a 7 per cent wage increase, a R400 (US$24) housing allowance increase, and a commitment to continue negotiations to improve wages and working conditions. 

Workers at an Iran Khodro Company auto factory in Tabriz had a wildcat strike in protest of the non-payment of wages. The Iran Khodro Company is the principal automaker in Iran, manufacturing vehicles, trucks, minibuses and buses. The Union of Metalworkers and Machinists of Iran (UMMI) reported that conditions in industrial plants are catastrophic across Iran as the economic impact of the pandemic added to the ongoing consequences of US sanctions. Major auto factories and their suppliers were affected, and many companies failed to pay wages and make social security contributions. This left workers unable to receive benefits or healthcare.
IndustriALL assistant general secretary, Kan Matsuzaki, says:

“Unions have a big role to play in fighting for decent wages. The real wage increase is made possible by collective bargaining power through strong solidarity among unions and workers. We must continue to fight for decent wage for all workers.”