The Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation says the new entry-level minimum wage for the agricultural sector announced by the Namibia Agricultural Labour Forum (Nalf) is only binding to members of parties to the collective agreement.
In a statement issued yesterday by acting executive director Lydia Indombo, the ministry said the new minimum wage can only be binding to the entire agricultural sector if parties to the collective agreement ask the minister "in a prescribed manner to extend it to the entire sector".
The forum on Monday announced a 10% increase in the minimum wage in the agricultural sector, effective from 1 October.
According to a statement issued by the Agricultural Employers' Association (AEA) on behalf of the forum, the minimum cash wage increases to N$6 per hour, or N$1 170 per month, for workers who work 45 hours per week.
"For those who do not receive the free rations portion, their allowance in lieu of rations increases with N$650 per month.
Thus the value of the minimum basic wage of farmworkers will be N$1 820 per month as from 1 October 2023," the forum's statement read.
Indombo said although the ministry welcomes this wage increase in achieving decent living wages for all working Namibians, it will only bind the entire agricultural sector once it is approved by the minister and has been published in the Government Gazette.
"Although not legally obligated, there is nothing preventing non-members to the collective agreement to remunerate their employees with that minimum wage and/or even more, since it is merely a minimum," he said.
The forum comprises the AEA, the Namibia National Farmers' Union, the Namibia Emerging Commercial Farmers' Union, and the Namibia Farmworkers' Union.
According to the forum, this minimum wage is an entry-level wage in the agricultural sector for young farmworkers without previous experience.
"The actual salaries paid to farmworkers with experience are much higher," the forum said.
The acting executive director said the ministry will ensure that this minimum wage becomes sectorally binding if parties to the agreement are willing to ask the minister to extend it to the entire sector, and that the submission is done in fulfilment of sections of the provisions of the Labour Act.