Tajikistan - Working conditions

The fall of the Soviet Union, the civil war of 1992-1997 that resulted in several billions of dollars of damages, and the continued economic slump have led to a drop in the standard of living for the majority. Public-sector wages are among the lowest in the world. According to the World Bank, about two-thirds of the population of Tajikistan subsists on less than US$2 a day. Though the official unemployment rate was 3 percent at the end of 2000, it did not include more than 220,000 government employees not receiving their salaries. These figures would yield an unemployment rate higher than 16 percent. The average wages per month among the CIS countries is highest in Kazakhstan at US$101 and lowest in Tajikistan at US$8.8. The highest average monthly salaries in Tajikistan belong to people working in the sectors of finance and banking, where they earn about US$40; the lowest belong to those in education (US$6), health care (US$4), and agriculture (US$3).

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Tajikistan 48 7 10 0 14 5 16
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Russia 28 11 16 7 15 8 16
Kyrgyzstan 33 11 11 3 22 6 14
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
a Excludes energy used for transport.
b Includes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

Some sector-specific labor organizations exist, but they cannot be considered unions. They are remnants of the communist past, when labor rights were ingrained in the system. Due to the widespread economic slump and high unemployment rate, few workers dare to organize against their employers, who can replace protesting workers with any of the thousands of unemployed. Many people are not engaged in their learned professions, due to paltry government salaries. Some use a self-owned micro-business to supplement their government salaries. The informal economy consists of thousands of micro-businesses in the various bazaars around the country, where one can find doctors, accountants and engineers selling anything from potatoes to baby clothing.

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