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Domestic wage too high, says Namoloh

2015-02-11  Mathias Haufiku

Domestic wage too high, says Namoloh
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By Mathias Haufiku WINDHOEK - Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development Charles Namoloh yesterday launched a scathing attack on the recently set domestic minimum wage, saying it is too high and could fuel unemployment. Namoloh was commenting on labour minister Doreen Sioka’s statement in which she informed lawmakers about the new minimum wage, in the National Assembly when parliament resumed yesterday for the final phase of the 5th Parliament which is due to be dissolved on March 21. “We have started too high,” Namoloh said. “If we start at N$1 218 then it means we will go up to N $4 000, which we will not be able to afford and domestic workers might end up being retrenched,” said Namoloh. Namoloh instead proposed that the minimum domestic wage be increased gradually on an annual basis. “Some of these people (domestic workers) come with their children and we have to feed them, provide shelter and transport, they use our water and sleep in our beds.” “The children roam around and break our things, will I really be able to afford all of this?” asked the former defence minister. “By the look of things we have started with the maximum wage and not the minimum wage, so when the domestic workers hear this they will mobilise themselves and come demand an increase,” he said. As a result of this new requirement, many domestic workers are now at risk of being fired by their employers. Swapo backbencher Professor Peter Katjavivi said domestic workers contribute immensely to the welfare of households but the payment should be based on the arrangement between the domestic worker and the employer. “We need a legal framework to govern the arrangement so that there are no misunderstandings,” he said. Nudo MP Arnold Tjihuiko was in support of the new minimum wage but warned that implementation might be a challenge. “Practically this will be a challenge because most of the people who employ domestic workers are those who do not earn much. These are cleaners, clerks and other low paid employees, as we know they do not get paid much,” Tjihuiko said. “This will create unemployment because if one cannot afford to pay a domestic worker you will simply retrench them,”he said. He questioned whether sufficient homework was done before the minimum wage was passed. Minister of Trade and Industry Calle Schlettwein warned that the minimum wage should not create a situation where it cannot be adjusted upwards in future. “We should not place unnecessary pressure on employers which may run the risk of destabilising the labour market,” Schlettwein warned. According to Schlettwein: “Slow growth in the country can be attributed to unstable labour markets. “I am not saying we should perpetuate income inequality but we should go about this in the right way to improve the lives of the poor.” All People’s Party President Ignatius Shixwameni called on government to consider introducing a national minimum wage whereby no gainfully employed Namibian receives a monthly salary of N$4 500. “We need a national minimum wage across all the sectors. Our people are starving. By instituting a national minimum wage we can eliminate poverty. Namibia can afford it because we have vast resources such as diamonds and fish,” Shixwameni said. Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Alpheus Muheua blasted cabinet members who opposed the new domestic minimum wage of applying double standards. “This process was not done haphazardly, it was discussed and it went to Cabinet for approval. It was approved and some of you were in Cabinet when it was approved, but now you seem to say that we should go back to the committee stage,” Muheua said.
2015-02-11  Mathias Haufiku

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