The government is the nation's largest employer, providing jobs for 38 percent of the wage-earning labor force in 1991. The parastatal sector employed a further 26 percent, leaving only 36 percent of workers in the private sector. The total labor force was about 29,600 in 1991; some 19 percent were domestic workers, self-employed, or family workers. The remainder were in formal wage employment. Hotel and restaurant workers formed the largest single category (14.1 percent), followed by transportation (13.8 percent), manufacturing (11.2 percent), public administration (10.9 percent), and agriculture (9.1 percent).
The government establishes official minimum wages depending upon job classification, although most jobs are paid at well above the rates set. Average monthly earnings as of mid-1992 were about SRe2,750 in the government and parastatal sectors and SRe2,260 in the private sector. The differential was caused by high 1992 salary increases to government and parastatal workers amounting to 12.3 percent and 14.3 percent, respectively, which the private sector could not match. The Central Bank of Seychelles has noted that wage inflation, which averaged 10.8 percent for the entire labor force, greatly exceeded the retail price inflation of 3.3 percent and could not be justified by corresponding productivity gains. The bank feared that the government's salary awards would add to existing pressures on the country's cost base, its external competitiveness, and its external accounts. , which is controlled by the SPPF. All workers are members because a percentage of their social security contributions are earmarked for union dues. Workers can elect their own shop stewards, but candidates are screened by the NWU executive secretariat, which can dismiss any elected shop steward. Workers can strike only with the permission of the SPPF Central Committee. Nevertheless, two labor disputes occurred in the changed 1992 political environment. Workers in the main electrical generating plant organized a brief shutdown, winning increased allowances in their compensation packages, and stevedores struck for better conditions and higher compensation. To avoid disruption at a critical time for the industrial fisheries sector, the government essentially met the stevedores' demands.
In November 1993, the National Assembly passed the Trade Union Industrial Act, which gave Seychellois workers the right to join and to form their own unions. Any such unions, however, may not compete with the overall NWU. One independent union was formed in late 1993.
In addition to approving collective bargaining agreements and reviewing private wage scales, the Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs can enforce employment conditions and benefits. With many free or subsidized public services, notably education and health, even workers at the low end of the pay scale can sustain their families at a basic level. Even so, many families rely on two or more incomes to deal with the high price structure.
The government has set a legal work week of forty or thirtyfive hours, depending on the occupation. With overtime, the work week may not exceed sixty hours. Workers are entitled to a thirty-minute break each day and twenty-one days of paid annual leave. Comprehensive occupational health and safety regulations are enforced through regular workplace visits.
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