ZANZIBAR’s seniour citizens were all smiles on Monday as President Hussein Mwinyi announced a 100 and 150 per cent hike in retirees’ and social pension packages, respectively.
Addressing the national labour day celebrations at Nungwi grounds in North Unguja Region, Dr Mwinyi announced an increase in the minimum pension for retirees from 90,000/- to 180,000/- while elders at the age of 70 years and above will effective next financial year start to receive 50,000/- from the current 20,000/-, monthly.
“Our aim is to improve it further; that is not the end, it’s just the beginning because we are quite aware of the outcries on social pension,” President Mwinyi said amid deafening applause. He said besides increasing the amount, the government also considers lowering the qualifying age to accommodate more needy elders.
President Mwinyi also pledged to work on transport allowance to public servants, reiterating the government commitment to improve workers’ welfare an d working environment.
“It’s important to support workers with transport allowance instead of letting them rely on their salaries to come to offices,” he said.
He said the government is in the final stages of introducing health insurance for all public servants, because “Good health is inevitable for efficient performance of employees.”
Dr Mwinyi however challenged workers and all Zanzibaris to check their health regularly and do exercises to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases, which he attributed to changing lifestyles.
The president further ordered immediate payment of all arrears of last year’s adjusted public servants’ salaries, saying: “All employees deserve new salaries effective last July; if there is any unpaid salary, let it be paid immediately.”
He directed the President’s Office, Labour, Economy and Investment through the labour commission to work closely with the trade unions to enforce payment of the private sector’s minimum wage.
Minister of State, President’s Office, Labour, Economy and Investment Mudrik Ramadhan Soraga on March 24, 2023 announced an increase of 47,000/- in the private sector’s minimum wage from 300,000/- to 347,000/-, effective last month.
Zanzibar Trade Union Congress (ZATUC) Acting Secretary General Maalim Ali Salum asked the president to intervene in the payment of the new minimum wage, saying some employers in the private sector haven’t honoured the new scheme.
He also decried denial of employment contracts to workers, claiming that majority employers use short-term contracts of between six and one year to their employees.
Mr Salum said employees were happy with the government efforts to improve workers welfare, citing last year’s salary review, which he described as good, transparent and participatory.
International Labour Organisation (ILO) Representative at the event Maridadi Fanuel commended Dr Mwinyi’s strong leadership, which protects the rights of workers.
He said three years after Covid-19, the world has experienced declining real wages, increasing poverty and lack of equity, “But, you have been able to increase salaries to public servants.”
Mr Fanuel cited social justice as the key priority in any nation, saying: “…and guaranteeing decent jobs to enable people meet their needs and build their future is the best way to attain social justice.”
Zanzibar Second Vice-President Hemed Suleiman Abdulla, Speaker of the House of Representatives Zubeir Ali Maulid, ministers, deputy ministers, members of parliament and members of the House of Representatives were among dignitaries who attended the May Day celebrations, which were blessed with heavy morning downpour.