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Wages in the DRC

In light of reason and the social teaching of the Church, the wage situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains dismal since the Second Republic headed by President Mobutu and during which the purchasing power, commonly called “Shopping basket” has only deteriorated. This situation has not improved during the Third Republic inaugurated by Presidents Laurent Kabila and Joseph Kabila.

Beyond the recurrent strikes  that we can see in the areas of ​​education, health and law (judges), we need only to recall the last tentative agreement reached in overall wage at Mbudi in 2004.  Faced with low wages and then sometimes not even paid (the magistrate barely earned $20 a month and the university professor $70 dollars, whereas military pay was arbitrarily decided by Laurent Désiré Kabila at $100) union and government negotiators had agreed on salaries ranging between $208 and 2080 dollars. Trapped by donors of international funds, the government had to backtrack in 2005 and proposed $50 less for the lowest grades, $208 for the highest.  Refusing to settle for this, the unions continue to this day to fight on, they sometimes get increases not in terms of salary but of bonuses (for judges, university professors, doctors etc..) or credit for travel. But these recent increases have rarely touched the officers and employees of lower class, so that the wage situation in the DRC remains worrisome.

And yet, in the light of the social doctrine of the Church, the fair wage should cover not only the basic needs of the employee and his family (food, shelter, clothing), but also health, the education of children, holidays and leisure, etc.. This is far from being achieved.

The reasons for this are related to the progressive deterioration of the country’s economy, especially after the nationalization of the measures undertaken in the 70s, and looting of the same companies in the 90s.  Then there are the new unfair contracts, denounced even by UN agencies, which do not allow the country to have sufficient revenue, and the stagnation of a judiciary that fails to levy against any new ventures (Lebanese, Chinese, Indian or Pakistani).

As you can guess, this situation increases the general poverty of the country, and creates many social and ethical consequences, including: flight to informal activities by officials or their spouses who have to try to get to the end of the month, sometimes using children for petty trade; the demoralization of workers and the  corruption of their accompanying services; and, the demoralization of educational and health services, leaving much to be desired.   Hence the need to address this vital subject of  wages, if we waant to hasten the development of the country.