Windhoek — -As of 1 June, no employees in the Namibian construction industry may earn less than N$13,26 per hour and anyone earning less than that must demand back pay for the outstanding amount in line with the law, says the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (Manwu).
Manwu said a collective agreement signed with the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), which was gazetted on 24 December 2013, stipulates that all minimum wages be increased by 9,5 percent and that all businesses - whether SMEs or big companies - comply with the law.
The union further congratulated employers who bought or rent buses for transporting their workers, but took aim at those who were still loading their workers in open trucks, saying that it was unacceptable and that the Ministry of Works and Transport should speed up the bill to ban such an act.
"We cannot have workers transported like animals. Manwu will continue to put pressure on all stakeholders so that workers are properly transported," said Justina Jonas, the Manwu secretary general, in a statement issued by the union.
Jonas said they were also concerned about the inadequate number of public buses and called on the Windhoek Municipality to implement a good public transport system.
The union also took a swipe at some companies that continue to intimidate union officials with threats of legal action when they raise issues that affect employees.
"This is becoming a habit and we no longer feel safe to fight for the rights of workers, because we are threatened after meeting with certain employees," said Jonas, adding that in many white dominated companies discrimination against black employees was still practised.
Manwu said it was determined to achieve a living wage and decent conditions of employment for all its members in the next few years and would intensify its collective bargaining campaign.
The union said its current focus was the national minimum wage, maternity leave and housing allowance, which would be intensified countrywide.
Furthermore, Jonas said workers were being paid peanuts at some mass housing projects, while not being issued with the required personal protective equipment, which compromises their safety.
"Namibia is signatory to the ILO (International Labour Organisation) conventions on promoting decent jobs as securing job security is part of the country's commitment," she added, calling on the National Housing Enterprise and the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development to ensure that workers' rights are respected during the mass housing scheme.