The Wages Commission, investigating all relevant industries to recommend a proposed National Minimum Wage (NMW) to the labour minister, has concluded public hearings at Katima Mulilo, Zambezi region, on 7 June 2021, and Rundu, Kavango East region, on 9 June 2021.
As per its terms of reference, the Commission is mandated to investigate all relevant industries, report and make recommendations to the minister on a proposed NMW, which will apply to all employees, except to related categories of employees specifically exempted by the minister in a wage order, and on supplementary minimum conditions of employment.
The objectives of an NMW are to improve the wages of especially the lowly paid employees to improve individual and household income and to contribute to poverty alleviation. The main objective of the public hearings is to afford members of the public, employers, employees, employers' organisations and trade unions the opportunity to give their input through oral and written representations on what the NMW should be for Namibia, as well as related supplementary minimum conditions of employment as set out in the terms of reference of the Commission.
According to Wages Commission chairperson Marius Kudumo, members of the public who have made representations at public hearings in the two regions shared their experiences related to working conditions, non-compliance to existing wage agreements in some instances and low wages.
"Worth noting is the minimum wages that were proposed for certain job categories that are either not formalised and/or underpaid. Challenges relating to non-compliance with existing collective wage agreements, especially in the security industry, were also raised," read a statement issued by Kudumo.
Wages in the public service of some job categories, the retail sector and the agriculture sector were also among those that were highlighted to be low and not contributing to sustainable livelihoods and improved conditions of life. Kudumo added that some participants reported that compliance to collective wage agreements by some employers has had a positive impact on their livelihoods and the welfare of workers.
According to labour ministry officials, all the experiences and proposals were noted and will be considered during the finalisation of the report.
"In order to present an informed and balanced report, the Wages Commission, in addition to oral and written representations and literature review, also engaged stakeholders and experts and will continue engaging with particularly employers and their organisations, as the voices thus far have not been satisfactory at most public hearings," Kudumo stated. The Wages Commission has up to date held public hearings in Windhoek, Aussenkehr, Keetmanshoop, Gobabis, Katima Mulilo and Rundu.
The Commission has emphasised that a proposed NMW aims to contribute to national developmental goals, such as improved individual and household income and a decent standard of living.
Against this background, it is imperative that employers, employees, trade unions and employers' organisations participate fully in the work of the Commission through written and oral representations.
This is in view that the quality of the work of the Commission is dependent on the quality of the inputs.
Finally, the Commission reminds the public that the deadline for written NMW submissions and related issues is not later than 30 June 2021.