NSA Disputes Claims By Agri-Census Field Workers

The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) has rubbished claims made by some of the contracted enumerators working on the ongoing agricultural census about alleged poor working conditions.

Amongst the complaints lodged with New Era were that workers only receive N$60 per day for both food and accommodation. However, the NSA’s Deputy Director for Strategic Communication, Iipumbu Sakaria, yesterday said the N$60 payment was not for food and accommodation. “It is a humane gesture whereby the NSA pays the amount of N$60 per day to all field workers for working in harsh conditions. Taking into consideration that we employ the unemployed youth, this incentive is normally to get them going as it happens that they are deployed to regions where they are possibly complete strangers. The payment is called a ‘field allowance’ and is not reflected in the employment contract,” explained Sakaria. According to salary figures released by the NSA, regional supervisors receive a monthly salary after tax of just over N$13 000, assistant regional supervisors get slightly more than N$12 000, team supervisors get about N$9 500 and enumerators get close to N$8 500. These salaries include a field allowance of N$1 860 per month, which is non-taxable.

“The salary, field allowance and airtime were paid monthly into the bank accounts of the field workers but only the salary portion has been taxed on a manual salary transfer system,” said Sakaria. He however pointed out that the payment loaded on a payroll system during March 2014 saw some of the airtime and field allowances taxed. “We are investigating this discrepancy and will rectify if necessary,” he commented. The NSA spokesperson said the field allowance for February 2014 was paid in aance to all field workers, the field allowance for March 2014 was paid with the salary on March 27, 2014, and the field allowance for April 2014 would be paid with the salaries at the end of this month. Contract workers also alleged that their calls to the NSA’s headquarters in Windhoek mostly went unanswered. Said Sakaria: “The contract workers know the communication channel but the NSA’s finance officers are bombarded daily with queries from all regions. The finance officers send communications on issues to the regional supervisors for them to convey all messages to the field workers.” Meanwhile, enumerators who are based in remote areas, who have been issued with global positioning systems, told New Era they had to purchase batteries for the devices with their own money. “All field staff received a sufficient number of rechargeable batteries. Should they need more the communication (to them) was to come through to the regional supervisors. We have not received any communication that they are in need of more batteries however, since we provide them with such, the contract workers are not supposed to buy batteries with their own money,” responded Sakaria. Another allegation was that many of the contract workers involved in the agricultural census were resigning, with as many as eight per region calling it quits. “Resignation is something we don’t have control over. Most of the contract workers who have resigned took up permanent positions, while some resigned due to medical reasons. There are also those who are going for police interviews, which we see as leave and not resignations. So far we had about 20 resignations,” said Sakaria.

Source : New Era