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

JANA-MARI SMITH

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

 

Samherji throws lifeline to Geysir crew

45 minutes ago | Labour

Workers currently on Samherji's Geysir vessel, which is fishing in Mauritania, will keep their jobs, while the rest of the crew who were left in...

N$500k to create jobs

1 week ago - 18 February 2020 | Labour

The labour ministry only received N$500 000 in its annual budget for employment creation, its executive director Bro-Matthew Shinguadja has confirmed.“We budgeted N$500 000 and...

NSFAF fires Nghiwete

2 weeks ago - 11 February 2020 | Labour

The Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) has fired its CEO, Hiliya Nghiwete, who had been on suspension for 21 months.Her lawyer, Sisa Namandje, confirmed...

Swapo's Chinese contractors get slap on the wrist

3 weeks ago - 07 February 2020 | Labour

Chinese nationals at the construction site of the new Swapo headquarters in Katutura are to receive training on the provisions of the Labour Act and...

Threat to down tools at Swapo office construction

3 weeks ago - 03 February 2020 | Labour

Construction workers building Swapo's new N$730 million headquarters will down tools if their demands for a better work environment are not guaranteed, Metal and Allied...

Foreigners at SOEs under microscope

4 weeks ago - 31 January 2020 | Labour

The ministry of public enterprises is asking CEOs and MDs of public enterprises to submit lists of all expatriates employed at these institutions, as well...

New MUN fund to protect mineworkers

2 months ago - 09 December 2019 | Labour

The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) has announced its intention to establish a Just Transition Plan aimed at protecting mineworkers from the dire consequences of...

Nampa dumps stringer over Fishrot debate

3 months ago - 27 November 2019 | Labour

OGONE TLHAGE The Namibia Press Agency (Nampa) has terminated the services of a Windhoek-based freelance reporter after he had participated in a...

Investing in employees’ future

5 months ago - 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

5 months ago - 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...

Latest News

Song Night is back

45 minutes ago | Art and Entertainment

Consistently exceeding expectations of nurturing the Namibian sound, Song Night, now sponsored by RMB, pledges to focus even more on mentoring musicmakers and bringing explosive...

D-Jay releases 'Pain'

45 minutes ago | Art and Entertainment

Multi award-winning rapper Diogene Ochs (32), better known as D-Jay, recently released his latest single, Pain, a collaboration with Rob E-Boy, also known as Robert...

Fresh and popping

45 minutes ago | Art and Entertainment

Namibian artists have been in top form, huh? As we close off the month of February, tjil shares some of the latest songs we think...

Peacemakers - a dynamic duo

45 minutes ago | Art and Entertainment

Collectively known as Peacemakers, one could say that Kid Wasabi and Sonny Vision are underrated musicians, but let's be honest, it's the underrated ones who...

Vote for Nudo - LPM

45 minutes ago | Politics

The Landless People's Movement (LPM) has announced it will not be participating in the upcoming Opuwo Rural Constituency by-election slated for 9 March.The party has...

Nadal cruises into Mexico Open...

45 minutes ago | Sports

World number two Rafael Nadal stepped up his bid for a third ATP Mexico Open title with an impressive display of serving and shot-making to...

Highlands Park draw mighty Mamelodi...

45 minutes ago | Sports

Mamelodi Sundowns will clash with Highlands Park in the quarter-finals of the Nedbank Cup, hoping to avoid the fate suffered by Kaizer Chiefs at the...

‘Govt is failing manufacturing’

14 hours ago | Business

"Our suspicion that corruption is one of the biggest enemies facing our members is no longer a suspicion," the chairperson of the Namibian Manufacturers Association...

Solar power dims ECB revenue

1 day - 27 February 2020 | Business

The Electricity Control Board (ECB) recorded revenue of N$86.3 million for 2018/19, an increase of 3.6% compared to the previous financial year.The ECB’s main source...

Load More