Delay gazetting minimum wage warn construction strike

08 Oct 2015 06:50am


Members of the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (MANWU) in the construction sector plan to march against the delay in gazetting the collective minimum wage and employment condition agreement.

A media statement issued on Tuesday by the General Secretary of MANWU, Justina Jonas-Emvula indicates that union members are upset about the delay and as such, are mobilising themselves across the country to hand over a petition to Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, Erkki Nghimtina.

There are close to 10 000 MANWU members in the construction sector. The national conciliation agreement was signed between MANWU and the Construction Industries' Federation of Namibia (CIF) and the office of the Labour Commissioner in June this year.

It was agreed the minimum wage for all employees in the bargaining unit will be increased by 10 per cent for 2015 and again for 2016. The parties further agreed to adjust the service allowance from 144 hours to 150 hours.

This means a worker will be paid equal to 150 hours of his/her wage, which will be part of remuneration in December. It is payable either at the end of December for those not going on leave in December or on the last working day before the commencement of the annual leave for those taking leave in December.

This allowance will be calculated pro-rata for each fully worked month that the employee was in service during that specific year. Should an employee resign or their contract is terminated before the end of the year, a pro-rata payment will be due to him/her.

The agreement gives employers a chance to start paying the workers the agreed percentages even before the gazetting, but it also allows them to wait until promulgation. Jonas-Emvula said the union has written to Nghimtina on Monday, requesting the date of gazetting the agreement.

She said the minister has a week to respond and avoid a situation where workers leave their jobs and march to hand him the petition at his office in Windhoek.

"We are also instructed by our members to request the minister to backdate the agreement to 01 September 2015, rather than set it for implementation on the month of promulgation," reads the letter sent to Nghimtina.

She said workers have been waiting for four months now hence the request for an answer. The unionist stressed that many employers have not implemented the agreement as they are waiting for the gazetting.

"During this period, workers are economically affected while the employers are gaining. Our members are suffering and we are requesting the minister to give us feedback. So we need to control the situation now," said Jonas-Emvula.

Consulting General Manager of CIF, Bärbel Kirchner on Wednesday said it is important that the agreement becomes promulgated so that employers can start paying the agreed wage.

"CIF and MANWU are keenly awaiting the promulgation of the new collective agreement. As the confederation, we are regularly communicating with the authorities on the matter," she said.

Nghimtina's office on Wednesday confirmed receiving the letter and that the matter has been receiving attention. Further information from Nghimtina's office shows that the request for gazetting has been forwarded to the Ministry of Justice.

"We have been making follow-ups and they informed us that most of the work is done, so it is just a matter of time before it can be gazetted," an official informed Nampa.