Yangyel Lhaden

When Kali, a thromde national workforce employee, receives her revised salary at the end of November, her family will have a hearty meal. There will be meat curry.

She has been working with Thimphu Thromde for the past 15 years. “Making ends meet is difficult with a low salary and a high cost of living, and I cannot even afford to buy meat for my family,” Kali said. She currently earns about Nu 7,000 a month.

“But there is hope now for a better living with news of a salary raise,” she said.

The Ministry of Finance announced the revision of National Workforce wage rates yesterday, and now employees can earn between Nu 12,000 and Nu 18,000. The revision is effective from October 1.

Before the pay revision, national workforce employees earned between Nu 6,450 and Nu 9,720.

Suk Maya, 60, another thromde national workforce employee is relieved with the news of a salary raise. “I can pay off my debt at the grocery stores.”

“It is difficult even to afford essential items with the current salary,” Suk Maya said. “I am growing old, but I still want to be independent, not having to rely on others, and to keep my family happy.”

Suk Maya and her husband came to Thimphu from Samtse about 15 years ago to work as thromde national workforce employees.

“Life in the village was hard, and making a living out of our small agricultural land was not paying off,” Suk Maya said. “We came here to find a better living, but our salary runs out in the first few days. It is a hard life.”

Kali and Suk Maya, like other national workforce employees, constantly find themselves seeking jobs at contract sites during government holidays and weekends to earn additional income.

“I have not known what rest is,” Kali said. “With a low salary, I couldn’t afford to rest because I have a family to feed.”

Yesterday evening, they were working at a contract site to earn extra money when they heard the news of the salary raise. “I am motivated to work even harder, and I am happy now,” Kali said.

Another thromde employee, Som Maya’s house was one of the 23 houses that was razed to the ground in Changidaphu on September 12.

She lost everything to the fire including her most cherished items – gifts her daughter had given her when she started earning as a salesgirl.

“After we lost everything to the fire, I have been working very hard to earn enough money to rebuild my home,” Som Maya said. “But when I receive my first salary raise, I will gift my parents for raising me, although both are deaf and mute.”

Som Maya hopes to save the extra money she earns from the salary raise and continue working at private construction sites during holidays to make up for what she lost.

 “My house will again one day have a fridge, washing machine, and a television set,” Som Maya said.