Domestic workers ‘fear’ joining unions

Among the challenges highlighted was the lack of maternity benefits experienced among many of Namibia’s more than 71 000 domestic workers.

21 August 2019 | Labour


Many domestic workers fear joining trade unions or taking full maternity leave, because they believe this could cost them their jobs.

A study commissioned by the Labour Resource and Research Institute (LaRRI) Namibia underlined that the “fear of losing employment if they join a trade union is rife” amongst some of the 203 domestic workers who took part in the research.

The study, titled 'When the minimum wage is not taking the worker home', was launched last week.

Trade unions informed the researchers further that determining the growth of union membership was hard, following the implementation of the minimum wage order in 2015, because “some employers threatened to release [domestic workers] from their duties, thereby compromising their right to associate and belong to trade unions”.

The study also found that the registration of domestic workers with the Social Security Commission (SSC) “remains low”, a concern highlighted by trade union representatives.

Moreover, it was found that “some employers were habitual defaulters, as they were not remitting the mandatory social security contributions to the commission”.

Another challenge highlighted by the study was the lack of maternity benefits experienced among many of Namibia’s more than 71 000 domestic workers.

The study underlined that a “significant number” of domestic workers surveyed said they are now allowed time off during their pregnancy and “even after delivery they are still expected to return to work within a short period of time”.

The study concluded that most domestic workers don’t enjoy Namibia’s legally stipulated maternity benefits and don’t spend “enough time with their babies after birth for fear of loss of income in the absence of registration with the Social Security Commission”.

Another concern highlighted by the trade unions is that a number of people employed as domestic workers are in fact providing “unpaid family labour”. The unions claimed that many work and live on the premises of an employer and “as a result rely on their employer for feeding and are irregularly offered second-hand clothing and sometimes toiletries in lieu of payment”.

The unions further expressed concern that the current minimum wage is inadequate to cover the cost of living and that the bargaining ability of domestic workers is limited.

Nevertheless, they agreed that the introduction of the minimum wage order has helped to enhance the lives of most domestic workers, who do have better protections in place and “are not as vulnerable as they used to be in the absence of the wage order”.

The study includes recommendations to government and trade unions, among which are suggestions for unions to develop campaigns for domestic workers to improve union membership.

Moreover, unions are encouraged to campaign for a living minimum wage, while using the cost of basic needs as a yardstick.

The study further recommends a toll-free line and complaint boxes for members to alert them to abuse and other queries.

A legal and information centre should also be considered.

Government is advised to implement continuous programmes to promote greater public awareness and an understanding of the domestic worker minimum wage, and the continuous reinforcement of domestic work as paid work.

Moreover, labour inspections should not be the domain of the labour ministry alone, but routine checks on domestic workers should be strengthened with the creation of a specialised tripartite multi-sectoral and inter-ministerial committee.

The study also recommends that “it is about time to get a better understanding of the needs and expectations of employers”.

It recommends engaging them in discussions that can help both sides and lead to a more practical strategy to ensure greater recognition and respect for the minimum wage order, and greater protection for domestic workers.

Similar News


Investing in employees’ future

1 month - 27 September 2019 | Labour

FirstRand Namibia supports education with bursariesFirstRand Namibia Assistance Trust has reduced the tertiary financial burden for 38 of its employees by awarding bursaries allowing them...

Empowering young leaders

1 month - 27 September 2019 | Labour

Francois van der Merwe As part of its ongoing mission to empower, equip and transform, Erongo Marine Enterprises (EME) sponsored ten young leaders, including...

Aaniilonga ya hala aahona yawo ya shunwe miilonga

1 month - 24 September 2019 | Labour

LEANDREA LOUW Aaniilonga yehangano lyEmbwinda Fishing otaya kondjitha opo aakomeho yawo miilonga ye li 21, mboka ya kuthwa miilonga shaaheli paveta opo ya shunwe...

Workers fight for supervisors

1 month - 23 September 2019 | Labour

Embwinda Fishing employees are on the warpath over the alleged unfair dismissal of 21 factory supervisors on 30 August.They held a peaceful demonstration at the...

Sex, verbal abuse rife in workplaces

1 month - 20 September 2019 | Labour

Workplaces in Namibia are rife with sexual and verbal abuse by bosses or clients who are rarely held to account for fear of further harassment...

Members pull out

1 month - 20 September 2019 | Labour

Namibia National Students' Organisation (Nanso) president Ester Simon says she will not be intimidated by the “small political circus” currently engulfing the student body. Vice-president...

Ekanka lyaaniilonga yaAgribusdev kali li paveta

2 months ago - 18 September 2019 | Labour

Omunambelewa Omukomeho gwoAgribusdev, Petrus Uugwanga okwa popi kutya aaniilonga kaya li ya pewa epitiko opo ya kuthe ombinga mehololomadhilaadhilo pethimbo lyoowili dhiilonga.ugwanga okwa popi kutya...

Agribusdev protest 'illegal'

2 months ago - 17 September 2019 | Labour

Agribusdev has described the actions of its workers, who demonstrated in Rundu over unpaid salaries, as illegal. Agribusdev managing director Petrus Uugwanga said the...

Builders' union appeals to State House

2 months ago - 13 September 2019 | Labour

The Metal and Allied Namibian Workers' Union (Manwu) yesterday appealed to President Hage Geingob to step in and save the construction sector, which has been...

Employers fail to submit AA reports

2 months ago - 20 August 2019 | Labour

Many employers are failing to submit their Affirmative Action (AA) reports to the Employment Equity Commission (EEC) on time, while some do not submit them...

Latest News

August 26 CEO innovates

3 days ago - 15 November 2019 | Business

Elizabeth Joseph ...

Fishing quotas under scrutiny

3 days ago - 15 November 2019 | Fishing

President Hage Geingob and acting fisheries minister Albert Kawana will meet next week to discuss the credibility of the fishing quota allocation process, as well...

Geingob was 'talked out of'...

3 days ago - 15 November 2019 | Government

President Hage Geingob had written dismissal letters for ministers Sacky Shanghala and Bernhard Esau on Wednesday morning, but a high-level meeting that included Vice-president Nangolo...

Helping people help themselves

3 days ago - 15 November 2019 | People

Evany van WykMarjolize Scholtz has been a wellness professional for over 17 years. During her career her empathy towards people has grown immensely. Scholtz was...

Putting on a corporate...

3 days ago - 15 November 2019 | People

Elizabeth Joseph Margaret Thatcher once quipped that if you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman. Langford...

Fuelled by ­creativity

3 days ago - 15 November 2019 | People

Evany van Wyk “Every challenge is put on your path to groom you and build you and if I had the opportunity to change something...

A musician at heart

3 days ago - 15 November 2019 | People

Queen, Mumford and Sons, as well as Koos du Plessis are all musical influences that Ruan Greeff, or John Rock Prophet as you may know...

EVMs in the firing line

3 days ago - 15 November 2019 | Politics

Independent president candidate Panduleni Itula, the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and Swapo will square off in the electoral court on Tuesday, 19 November over...

Unshackling the toothless ACC

3 days ago - 15 November 2019 | Opinion

Much has been said about the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) over the years. Many have called it toothless.Revelations this week that it has been sitting on...

Load More