Low levels of education force many men and women to seek jobs as shop assistants, cleaners and waiters so they can survive. Often these individuals are exploited by their employers and not paid the US$115 minimum monthly salary as stipulated in the new Timorese Labour Code.
Even then, they refuse to protest because they fear losing their jobs. “I was so happy to hear the minimum monthly wage had been set at US$115 a month, but I still only got paid US$100. I cannot protest because if I do my employer may sack me. Then what? Where am I going to find another job with the low levels of education and the skills I have,” asked a shop assistant (03/08), working in one of the many foreign owned shops in Caicoli, Dili.This single parent has been working at the premises for one and a half years. She must keep working due to financial demands of raising a child and bringing food home. “I was earning US$85 initially, then it got raised to $100, but still it is not enough. It will have to do,” lamented the shopkeeper.Since June 22, the legal minimum monthly wage established by the Labour Code is US$115 per month. “If employees are found not to be complying whit payment of the legal minimum salary, they will be fined $230,” said Aniceto Leto Soro, Inspector General for Employment. UNTAET regulation stipulated US$85 as the minimum monthly wage. These workers are still being paid between $85 and $100 a month, because some employees are still ignorant of the new law. Member of Parliament (MP) Josefa Alvares Soares, said employees should not fear and stand up for their rights, because the Government through the Secretary of State for Employment and Professional training (SEFOPE) has already determined the minimum monthly wage. “I believe socialization of the law is critical so workers know their rights and report employers who still continue to pay them at below the legal wages. It is no longer simply a matter of saying “here is $50.00” and they get away with it,” said the MP.
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