The Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Trade and Industry Bureau has sourced close to 25,000 workers to be trained and recruited for the Hawassa Industrial Park (HIP), which is expected to become operational in October 2016.
A total budget of close to 60 million Br is set aside for the Hawassa Industrial Park Sourcing and Training Employees in the Region (HIPSTER) to source, recruit and train 30,000 workers in two years. This represents half of the ultimate absorption capacity of the Park when it is fully occupied and operational at full capacity.
The signatories, represented by the Regional Bureau of Trade and Industry, the Ethiopian Textile Industry Development Institute (ETIDI), the Association of Tenants of the Hawassa Industrial Park and Enterprise Partners, have committed to raising the required labour force over the next two-and-a-half-year period.
“The Corporation is glad to organise this Forum; a sign that it is carrying out its mandate as per the proclamation,” said Sisay Gemechu, director of the Industrial Park Development Corporation, further referring to the specific articles from the Industrial Park Development Corporation Establishment proclamation.
The project is a component under the auspices of the UK Department for International Development’s (DfID) funded Private Enterprise Programme Ethiopia (PEPE), with a total budget of 70 million pounds for over six years.
Enterprise Partner is a programme responsible for carrying out specific duties to facilitate market development in six sectors, including Cotton and Apparel (CTA), Livestock & Leather (LAL) and Fruits and Vegetables (FAV), under agro-industrial group and others.
In explaining the rationale behind endowing the duty of training and recruiting the 30,000 workers to Enterprise partners, Tadesse Haile, State Minister of Industry, and Selshi Lemma said it had a good track record working with the ETIDI.
It was earlier in March 2016 that the institute signed an agreement to develop a national cotton strategy as a crucial step, assigning the task to Enterprise Partners.
The first stage of the cotton strategy development, the scoping study, has been completed and was presented to stakeholders on July 12, 2016.
This multilateral agreement follows the Memorandum of Understanding at the Park’s inauguration ten days ago.
Enterprise Partners are responsible for the preparation of the curriculum of soft skills customised to industrial work ethics, communications, health safety and labour rights issues.
The hard skills, technical trainings will be carried out by each tenant company, as per the customised standard procedures of the companies.
“Upon the completion of the training. we hope to see the productivity of each employee in the textile and apparel industry be three-fold the current rate,” said Shileshi Lemma, director of the ETIDI.
However, these high hopes of a productivity hike do not come with a hike in the remuneration packages on offer.
So far, the project estimated that the average salary would be 50 dollars a month, which will generate close to 325 million Br in wages annually.
Different case studies by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on industrial zones with special incentives set-up to attract foreign investors, discovered that the salary scale in such zones is usually higher than other competitive sectors, but the issue of rights is usually overlooked.
The ILO’s Trade Union Manual on such industrial manufacturing settings clearly recommends that traditional organising strategies of labour rights have to be complemented by new innovative strategies.
Responding to the question raised about ensuring labour rights and preparations made on that line, the signatories were firm on the scanty chance of that happening at the Hawassa Industrial Park (HIP).
“So far, all of the tenants of the HIP are brands known for being responsible buyers,” said Tadesse Halie.
“Failure is not an option,” said Ranjanshi Dutta, the Tenants’ Association representative. “We rely on the workforce for success and therefore make sure their wellbeing is well attended to.”
He Further argues that the rate of estimated labour in Ethiopia is not cheap when matched by productivity, which has a long way to go to reach average standards.
The manufacturing sector currently provides employment for close to a million paid and unpaid workers, according to CSA’s Urban Employment-Unemployment Survey 2015.
Hawassa City contributes close to 16pc of this workforce.
The ideological grounding of the Ethiopian government’s developmental state paradigm is anchored on a belief that a free market left to its own devices would not meet the optimal balance of productivity and technology transfer.
The economic field is still guided and supervised by the state, which intervenes even to the point of introducing protectionist policies in selected areas, like finance and telecommunications, among others.
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