“I am very saddened by the complaints. $100 a month is not sufficient for their household needs,” Soriana said explaining that the minimum salary agreed by the Secretary of State for Labour (SEFOPE) is $115 a month.
Soriana said he would call on rubbish collection companies to explain why they paid staff below minimum wage.
Under Timor-Leste law the minimum wage is the lowest amount a worker can be legally paid.
Julio da Silva, a sanitation subcontractor for the Dili Municipality who runs rubbish trucks between the city and Tibar, said the $1500 a month he received from the municipality barely covered his costs.
“I have two trucks and four workers, their salary is only $ 100," Silva said.
"$ 400 is used to pay the four employees and there is vehicle maintenance costs so there is only a small profit for my family's daily needs.”
Across Dili, rubbish collectors say with few employment opportunities they have little option but to take the low salary.
“We work hard and the salary is not sufficient to meet out daily needs,” said Saturnino da Costa, an employer of Saturninos. But even people who graduate from university find it difficult to get a good job, he said.