KABUL (Pajhwok): Pajhwok Afghan News findings show average wage of masons and laborers decreased by 30 percent in Kabul and work opportunities dropped by 57 percent compared to the beginning of the current solar year.
Analysts blame weather conditions and the country’s economic situation for the decreased works and reduced wages and suggest the government should enhance development budget and strengthen the private sector to increase work opportunities in the country.
The caretaker government of Afghanistan says it is working on a national policy to launch short and mid-term projects to reduce unemployment and create jobs.
October 7 – World Day for Decent Work
On this day, labor unions hold various programs to press the governments to provide decent work to the people and give priority to workers and human power.
Pajhwok Afghan News interviewed some 100 laborers and 40 masons in four different areas of Kabul city (Mirwais Maidan, Sarai Shamali, Shehri Naw and Taimani).
They were asked how many days they found work in a week now and how many days they worked in a week in the beginning of the current year and how many afghanis a day they received now and how many at the beginning of the year.
Laborers and masons gather at different areas of Kabul city to be hired by people against daily wages.
Wages of masons
Among the masons Pajhwok interviewed, five people said they were offered 1000 afghanis daily wage in the beginning of the year, five others said they received 800 afghanis, 13 said they received 700 afghanis, 15 people 600 afghanis and two others 500 afghanis.
About their current wages, one of these people said he received 800 afghanis, three of them 600 afghanis, 25 of them 500 afghanis, three others 450 afghanis and eight of them 400 afghanis.
Based on these figures, average daily wage of the workers at the beginning of this year was 700 afghanis, but now it has reduced to 500 afghanis.
Of these 40 masons, 13 said they found work four days a week at the beginning of the year, 17 said they would work three days a week, nine people said two days and one person said he found work one day a week.
Currently, one of them said they found work three days a week, but 16 others said they found work two days a week and 18 people said one day a week. But five people said sometimes they found no work in the entire week.
Looking at these figures, the work for masons in Kabul has decreased by more than half compared to the past.
Mohammad Imran, a laborer in Sarai Shumali area of Kabul, who arrived at the site after morning prayers and was waiting for customers until 9:30am, said he used to find work for about four days in week in the beginning of the ongoing year, but now he could find work for about two days and returned home empty-handed the rest of the days.
He received 700 afghanis a day at the start of the year, but now he readily agreed to accept 500 afghanis in order not to lose the work.
“I support 11 members of my family. Work opportunities have shrunk, but laborers find more work than the masons. I go with people as a laborer so that I can support my family and find food for my children”.
Imran said household expenses increase in winter when work opportunities decrease and it becomes difficult for many Afghans to support their families.
He acknowledged security had improved people were also happy, but the government should try to provide aid to the deserving people and create work opportunities for the unemployed.
Wages of laborers
Pajhwok interviewed 100 laborers and 26 of them said they earned 400 afghanis a day in the beginning of the year, 44 said they earned 350 afghanis, 27 said 300 afghanis and three said they earned 250 afghanis.
But one of these people said now he earned 350 afghanis a day, 21 of them said their current daily wage amounted to 300 afghanis, 44 people said they earned 250 afghanis a day, 30 people said they earned 200 afghanis and four people said 150 afghanis.
When asked how many days a week they found work at the beginning of this year, one person said five days, 32 people said four days, 46 people said three days and 19 people said two days, but one person said that sometimes he was unable to find work even one day in a week.
But now one person said he found work three days a week, 41 people said two days, 50 people said one day, and seven people said that sometimes they could not find work even one day a week.
Asmatullah, a laborer in Shehri Naw area of Kabul city, said currently he hardly found work one day a week, but in the beginning of the year he used to work up to four days.
“We come here in the morning. When a person comes to hire one or two workers, everyone runs after them. Even sometimes, the workers accept very minimal wage”.
Asmatullah said a worker would previously get 350 afghanis a day but now no one pays more than 250 afghanis.
Weather conditions and economic crisis negatively impact work
Economic expert Qais Mohammadi says work in Afghanistan is usually seasonal. “A lot of work is found in spring, but it decreases when the weather turns cold.”
He said work opportunities decrease in winter and the number of unemployed people increases and this situation leads to a kind of competition between the workers and causes daily wages to fall.
He said due to the recent political changes in Afghanistan, not only seasonal unemployment has increased but also economic crisis and unemployment occurred.
He said construction works had mostly stopped following the regime change and now the unemployment rate in Afghanistan was more than 80 and 90 percent. “A laborer is compelled to be hired against the minimum wage”.
In the past, he recalled, people would switch to other jobs after losing one job but now it was difficult to find another job.
He asked the government to launch construction projects and increase the development budget and also support the private sector in order to increase the level of employment in the country.
“Afghanistan workers are facing unemployment”
President of All Afghanistan Federation of Trade Unions (AAFTU) Dr. Mohammad Liaqat Adil says Afghanistan despite being a member of the International Labor Organization, its workers faced a difficult situation.
He said every political change in the country affected laborers the most. He believed if the international community’s aid had been properly spent in Afghanistan in the last two decades and basic works had been done, then Afghan workers would not have faced this bad situation.
Dr. Adil said the caretaker government and the international community should pay special attention to the workers of Afghanistan and to do basic work to solve their problems.
Pajhwok shared the issue with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, but they did not respond.
The caretaker government of Afghanistan has said it is working on short-term and medium-term plans to reduce unemployment and create jobs. The government says it is preparing a national employment policy in coordination with experts of the sector ministries and related agencies.