MAPUTO, Thousands of Mozambican workers marched through the streets of Maputo Monday in the traditional May Day parade, demonstrating against low wages, the high cost of living and the casualization of employment.

Despite steady rain for much of the morning, the marchers, organized by the country’s main trade union federation, the OTM (Mozambican Workers’ Organization), made their way through the centre of the city to Workers’ Square, near the port.

Some of them protested at the harassment and intimidation of trade union activists, and the refusal of their employers to respect Mozambican labour legislation. Some companies and State institutions, they said, refused to enter into dialogue with their workers.

A major concern for trade unions is the attempt by employers to impose short-term contracts, even though the tasks concerned are permanent, thus making employment unstable and uncertain. In a climate of uncertainty, workers say they are unsure whether they will still have a job tomorrow, or will find that their contracts have been rescinded.

Addressing the marchers at the end of the parade, OTM General Secretary Alexandre Munguambe declared: We are telling those in authority that the high levels of inflation, opportunism and bad faith in fixing the prices of basic goods and services, and low wages all combine to turn the lives of workers into a dramatic struggle for survival.”

Munguambe called on the government to promote economic policies that are more favourable to the development of the productive sector. He agreed with the government that low wages are the result of low production and low productivity but argued that the government’s current economic policies do not stimulate increased production.

It is basic that economic policies be established that encourage the development of agriculture, which is where the majority of Mozambicans find work and their livelihoods,” said Munguambe, who claimed that the content of the May Day demonstrations across the country reflected the need for redoubled efforts for economic development which will culminate in the eradication of the poverty in which most Mozambican workers are living.