Labour Ministry wants to avoid labour disputes: Shinguadja

27 Jan 2016 11:30am
WINDHOEK, 27 JAN (NAMPA) – The Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation avoided rushing into gazetting the wage increases for construction workers in order to make sure the agreement would not result in labour disputes.
“As a responsible ministry, it could not have forwarded the agreement to the Ministry of Justice for gazetting without being satisfied with its content and statutory correctness,” said the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Bro-Matthew Shinguadja.
He said this in response to the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers’ Union (Manwu) accusations that it delayed the promulgation of the agreement to the detriment of construction workers.
Manwu and the Construction Industries Federation (CIF) of Namibia signed the new collective agreement for wages in the construction industry in July 2015. It was agreed that the minimum wage for all employees in the bargaining unit be increased by 10 per cent in 2015 and another 10 per cent in 2016.
However, this agreement was gazetted only on 31 December 2015 by the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, hence the new minimum wage of N.dollars14.70 per hour, which is 10 per cent more than the initial amount of N.dollars13.36 as introduced in 2013, will only come into effect on 01 January 2016.
Shinguadja pointed out that Manwu is aware of the identified issues that needed further re-considerations as well as consultations made during the process.
He noted that as per the signed agreement there is a clause stating that “the implementation date of this agreement will be effective from the date of the promulgation of this agreement. In line with the nature of the minimum wages, there are no restrictions for employers who want to implement the agreement immediately after its signing”.
Thus, he underlined that Manwu’s wishes for the agreement to be in effect on the date on which it was signed are out of question and have no legal foundation, particularly on employers who were not part of Manwu and CIF negotiations or their members.
Manwu's General-Secretary Justina Jonas-Emvula said during a media briefing last week that the slow implementation of new minimum wages were leaping the employees' benefits.
“These delays from the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation have been forthcoming every year. In Manwu, we have had enough now. It’s high time some of these important agreements are made priorities to our colleagues to be able to improve the living standard of our people,” she said.
The general-secretary said Manwu presented a petition letter in October 2015, urging the Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, Erkki Nghimtina to gazette the agreement and to backdate the increases so that workers would receive such increases from July 2015 onwards, because the delay is coming from the ministry’s side.
“Manwu wishes to express our serious collective disappointment on this matter,” she said.