The Construction Industries Federation (CIF) and the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (Manwu) last week reached an agreement on the increases of minimum wage payable in the construction industry. Both parties once again negotiated a two-year “collective agreement” on behalf of their respective members.
The agreement clearly stipulates the minimum wage requirements and employment conditions in Namibia’s construction industry, once promulgation has been concluded. Of relevance to the industry will then be the adjustment to the minimum wages payable, which are to be increased by 2.6% for the first year after promulgation and by a further 2.6% after the second year of promulgation. The basis of the increase for the respective categories is the minimum wages as determined in the government gazette No.6567, dated 11 April 2018.
The collective agreement as per the government gazette No. 6567, and the extension of this agreement, as per government gazette No. 7142, dated 16 March 2020, have expired. However, the conditions as per the collective agreement remain in place as per section 50(1) (e) which prohibits the unilateral alteration of any condition of employment.
Once the collective agreement is promulgated by labour minister Utoni Nujoma, the minimum wage for the general labourer in the construction sector will be N$17.38 per hour. Currently, it still is N$16.94 per hour. All other conditions as per the previously gazetted collective agreement remain the same.
Bärbel Kirchner, general manager of the CIF, noted: “We are happy that the CIF and Manwu could come to a swift agreement, considering the harsh economic environment we find ourselves in. Many businesses have closed down or scaled down drastically; large-scale retrenchments have taken place over the recent years; and many businesses sit with a cash flow crisis, especially in instances where there is still outstanding payment by government on certain projects. However, we feel that since the last increase had been in April 2018, a 2.6% increase on minimum wage payable is only fair. At the same time, we hope that the conditions for our sector will change, with an acute focus on securing more work for local contractors. Our lobbying efforts for greater regulation in view of the optimal development of our industry will continue.”
Justina Jonas-Emvula, secretary general of Manwu said: “Negotiating for a wage increase for this sector at the moment was not an easy mandate as given to us by our members. The sector continues to face serious economic challenges, especially during this time of Covid-19. We are happy that workers, especially our members, agreed to this position to ensure the sector’s sustainability.
“As we are waiting for the gazetting process to be finalised, we continue to call upon all stakeholders in the sector to seriously consider the localisation of construction works. We call for a fast-tracked implementation of the Construction Council, for it to be in place as quick as possible, to safeguard the sector,” Jonas-Emvula stated.
“Lastly, we urge honourable Nujoma to help the sector by fast-tracking the process of gazetting the collective agreement. We thank our social partner, the CIF leadership, for the constructive negotiations,” she concluded.