Minimum Wage Still Elusive for Many Workers

Within the three industries that have a defined minimum wage in Namibia, namely the agriculture, security and construction industries, only about 41 percent to 64 percent of the covered workers actually receive a minimum wage.

This figure was revealed by Albius Mwiya, Director of Labour Market Services in the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, during a workshop on Sustainable Media Capacity Enhancement.

The workshop, which took place at the Gross Barmen Resort outside Okahandja on May 12 and 13, was hosted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in conjunction with the Ministry of Labour. “Enforcement of the agreed minimum wages is poor,” said Mwiya.

Meanwhile, Vicky Toivo ya Toivo, the special aisor to the labour minister, emphasized that employees have the right to be paid a minimum wage and aised workers to approach the labour ministry for assistance in ensuring that they are paid their dues.

However, ya Toivo admitted: “The question of enforcement (of minimum wages) is a great concern to the ministry.”

Mwiya said there is widespread violation of the Labour Act, particularly concerning excessive working hours.

Also contributing to the debate on the violation of the Labour Act, Deputy Labour Commissioner Tuulikie Shikongo called on the law to be amended to eliminate loopholes in the system.

“If we know where the loopholes are and we don’t close them then we can expect a situation where the loopholes are exploited,” warned Shikongo.

Domestic workers recently received a minimum wage but this was only implemented at the beginning of April, which makes it tough to confirm its adherence by employers.

The Namibia Domestic and Allied Workers Union (NDAWU) coordinator Lizette Hanes has complained that as many as 20 domestic workers have already lost their jobs following the new law. During a recent media briefing Hanes said some domestic workers who were paid above the minimum wage were let go as their employers opted for someone else whom they could pay the minimum wage.

The primary goal of the workshop hosts, the ILO, which is the labour arm of the United Nations, is to contribute, with member states, towards achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people.

This goal is embedded in the ILO Declaration 2008 on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization, which has now been widely adopted by the international community.

In order to support member states and the social partners to reach the goal, the ILO pursues a Decent Work Agenda which comprises four interrelated areas: Respect for fundamental workers’ rights and international labour standards, employment promotion, social protection and social dialogue.

Source : New Era