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National minimum wage to alleviate poverty

2021-05-26  Steven Klukowski

National minimum wage to alleviate poverty
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KEETMANSHOOPThe national commission on proposed wages aims to improve the wages of lowest-paid workers, reduce income inequalities, alleviating poverty and improve individual and household income.

It further strives achieving a decent standard of living for all, said Marius Kudumo, chairperson of the Wages Commission.

The commission is in the //Kharas region to solicit input through oral presentations from employees unions, employer representative organisations and workers to submit relevant recommendations to the line ministry.  

Kudumo explained the purpose of their visit is to investigate the wages provided by employers to compile a report, including recommendations, for possible implementation. 

“These recommendations will however exempt some employers in a wage order, as directed by the minister, to comply to such introduced minimum wage recommendations,” he explained. The chairperson added that the commission would first investigate and determine all employment sectors’ remuneration structures.

“Once done with it, we will then compile a report with recommendations on proposed national minimum wages, which will be also based on public presentations to the line minister,’’ he explained. At a meeting held in Keetmanshoop,  Kudumo noted that the implementation of such minimum wages will be subjected to various factors like the legal aspect and affordability attached to it. The chairperson also said that, from information gathered from these oral presentations, they can then establish the period of working time on which these minimum wages should be calculated; namely hourly, daily, weekly, bi-weekly and/or monthly. 

Kudumo also explained that, for purposes of improving employees income, there should be a focus on the possibility of paying a higher hourly minimum wage for part-time employees, a guaranteed minimum hours of pay per day and a threshold number of hours of days employees
shall be entitled to.   

Factors to be considered should include, among others, the cost of living in Namibia, minimum subsistence levels in the country and the ability of employers to continue operating if required to pay the recommended national minimum wage, it has been further explained during the hearings.

In her contribution, Rosalia Albert, representing the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (NAFAU) said their members are mainly from the hospitality and tourism, retail, meat processing and agricultural sectors. 

“We are proposing a N$24.94 hourly, N$1 135.92 weekly and a fixed N$5 000 monthly salary for members of the hospitality and tourism sector.” 

In terms of the retail industry, a N$28.84 hourly, N$1 304.32 weekly and a fixed N$6 000 rate was proposed. 

For employees in the meat processing sector (butcheries and abattoirs) the union proposed a N$33.65 hourly, N$1 615.00 weekly and fixed N$7 000.00 monthly rate whilst those in the agricultural sector should be paid a N$24.96 hourly, N$1 038.48 weekly and N$4 969.27 fixed monthly rate. General workers should get a N$31.23 hourly, N$1 260.20 weekly and N$5 408.68-fixed monthly wage. In terms of housing allowance, Albert suggested N$2 008.15 per month if not provided by the respective employer.  “This (housing) incentive will then allow our members to try and acquire land, erven/small accommodation structures to provide for them at retiring age,’’ she said.  The representative then suggested that employers should be given a one-month grace period to implement the national minimum wages proposal if approved by government. 

The commission also engaged relevant stakeholders in Aussenkehr prior to visiting Keetmanshoop as part of their //Kharas tour. 

2021-05-26  Steven Klukowski

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