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close this bookSpecial Public Works Programmes - SPWP - Planting Trees - An Illustrated Technical Guide and Training Manual (ILO - UNDP, 1993, 190 p.)
close this folder9. Working conditions
View the document(introduction...)
View the document9.1 Hours of work and rest
View the document9.2 Nutrition and amenities
View the document9.3 Wage systems
View the document9.4 Training, job content and labour-management relations
View the document9.5 Safety

9.3 Wage systems

Where no heavy machinery is used, about three-quarters of the cost of establishing a plantation costs for wages. Fair wages are a strong motivator for work and an essential requirement for job satisfaction. Wages can be determined in different ways. The different forms have a strong influence on productivity and the quality of work.

Time wages are payment according to the time worked. They may be used for foremen and motivated workers and for all work tasks for which worknorms are difficult to establish, such as transport of plants or plantation maintenance. It is also probably more appropriate to pay wages on a time basis for operations where quality is more important than speed.

In task work a wage is paid once a specific task has been accomplished. This enables the. worker to go home earlier and to do other work.

Piece work means that the worker is paid for a certain output (e.g. per 1,000 seedlings planted or per hectare weeded). The piece rate (worknorm) is the payment per unit output. Piece work enables the worker to increase his earnings by working harder. Productivity is usually higher than under time-based wages. The piece rate has to be set carefully to motivate the worker to be productive without being careless. The quality of the work, which is crucial for the survival of the trees and the success of the plantation, must not decrease. To consider quantity more important than quality when planting trees is expensive in the long run. The risk of an increased number of accidents or excessive strain should also be taken into consideration.

When a bonus system of payment is used, the salary can partly be based on the time worked and partly on quality of the work, e.g. the survival of the plants. Incentive wages make the work of the supervisor easier as the worker is self-motivated. The supervisor becomes more of a quality controller.


Time wage

Task wage


No bonus


Manner of payment

Payment need not necessarily all be made in cash. It can also be partly in kind, often in the form of food. Usually food is given in the form of rations for the household but it could also be in form of free meals on the worksite. International labour standards state that 50 per cent of the wages or more should always be payed in cash. This will ensure that workers are able to meet then: non-food needs.

To support a large-scale plantation programme, big amounts of food are brought into an area. If workers have to sell substantial quantities of this food to get cash, this may influence the price of agricultural products and be a threat to the agriculture in the area.

Other forms of payment in kind are less common but may be very attractive to the workers. These could include good tools and agricultural implements, seed material, and so on, to which the local population might not otherwise have access.

Payment in kind

At least 50 % of the wage should always be payed in cash

Distribution of food rations

Food distribution at worksite