Namibia: Contractors Urged to Adhere to Mandatory Pension Benefits

The Construction Industries Federation (CIF) of Namibia said it is mandatory for construction sector employers to register their most vulnerable workers with a pension fund, and assist with contributions.

CIF chief executive officer Bärbel Kirchner said in a statement that the provision applies to all contractors, as per the collective agreement between CIF and the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (Manwu).

"We are aware that some companies have not registered their workers as per the categories listed in the gazetted collective agreement, and are not making any contributions on their behalf.

"Some businesses clearly ignore these statutory requirements and blatantly disregard them. These, however, would be mostly those that are not members of the CIF," said Kirchner.

As the establishment of a national pension fund in Namibia remains on the cards, the construction sector is the one industry that is taking the lead to protect its most vulnerable employees, she said.

Manwu secretary general Justina Jonas expressed concern about foreign contractors not adhering to the mandatory requirements by registering their teams with a pension fund.

"We have noted from our annual random site inspections that many projects managed by foreign contractors do not register their workers with a fund. There is no sense of caring for their workers after the end of their working lives to mitigate poverty and maintain their standard of living during retirement," Jonas said.

CIF and MANWU collaborated in 1990 to establish an umbrella fund for the industry, the Namibia Building Workers Pension Fund (NBWPF).

NBWPF principal officer Enwich Kazondu said the commitment to help the local construction industry work towards creating decent work was jointly addressed.

"An important fact to consider is that all employers in the construction sector, irrespective of whether they are members of the CIF, are legally obliged to ensure that their workers are registered with a pension fund so that they, as well as their employees make contributions," Kazondu said.

Despite efforts by employers to adhere to the requirements, Kirchner noted that many businesses are struggling to make pension contributions due to a lack of work.

"For that reason, we clearly want to see more majority Namibian-owned businesses get contracts both in the private and public sectors.

"It is not only important in view of job creation, maintaining, and building capacities in the industry, but also in view of effective contribution to government revenues, as well as building a future safety net at the point of retirement for those working in our sector," she said.

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