- Women earn less salary
The findings of a draft research on working conditions of women employees in 20 major flower producers, textile, leather and hide processing companies in Amhara, Oromia and Southern regional states in Ethiopia proves that, there are discriminatory recruitment practices against women on the grounds of pregnancy and maternal status.
According to the study entitled “The Situation of Working Women in the Ethiopian Flower Growers, Textile and Leather Hide Processing Companies”, which was conducted between March 2016 and November 2016 by the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions in collaboration with European Union, many workers across the factories said that they face discrimination on the bases of their sex. Many employers are also reluctant to hire pregnant, women with a baby and family responsibility. The study also concluded that in almost all factories there are evidences of discrimination on the basis of age.
The research, which surveyed 400 women and 100 men employees, also exposed the existence of division of labor on the basis of sex. Most of the production activity in the industry is exclusively assumed by female workers while those jobs which demands exertion of muscular force and physical strength are left for male workers. The lower skilled jobs are filled almost exclusively by young women with little education.
Regarding wages even though men and women are working in the same position, women are paid less salary. The findings of the research also show that, the average monthly net income for men was around 1115 birr (USD 50) while for female 836 birr (USD 38). Since it is difficult to fill their basic needs with what they earn, most workers were working overtime.
This study substantiated what used to be a claim among factory works over the years. Most of the respondents indicate that their factory lack health and safety facilities. Around seven in ten sample workers indicated that their employer did not provide them with protective equipment, clothing and other materials. Almost all employees reported that their employer did not arrange medical examination for those workers engaged in hazardous work. Over seven in ten (72%) employees have not been trained and consulted on health and safety issues.
Even though the study highlighted lack of employment security, the practice of harassment, absence of leave and working conditions of women, harmonious industrial relation directorate director at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Fekadu Gebru, downplayed the findings arguing the study was largely one-sided during a discussion on the research findings at Azzeman Hotel on Thursday. If the researchers bothered to incorporate the views of the government which inspects factories and employers periodically, their findings could have been different, he argued.
According to Fekadu, there are good policies and laws which benefit both the employer and employees. And the government of Ethiopia doesn’t want economic development that violates workers right. However, he admits the implementation of those the laws is not up to the standard.
The Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions president, Kasahun Folo, on his part, said that there are a lot of problems that workers are facing in industries. Workers are suffering from poor working conditions which are not related to the lack of policies. The problem is directly related to the lack of implementing those policies from the employer’s side. Moreover, shortage of human power from the government part to inspect whether those policies are implemented up to the standard aggravates the problems.
Feysel Abdo and Alessandro Vicini research consultants from Ethiopia and Confederation of Italian Trade union respectively recommended that to improve the situation of working women in industries, awareness rising on fundamental rights, promoting social dialogue to improve industrial relations and provide a written contract for all workers among others are imperative.