National minimum wage should exempt farmworkers

22 February 2021 | Labour

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



The Agriculture Employers' Association (AEA) is of the opinion that agricultural employers should be exempted from a national minimum wage as there is already a unique minimum wage for farmworkers.

The labour ministry last week inaugurated a Wage Commission to investigate the possibility of introducing a national minimum wage. The commission is expected to investigate all industries, report and make recommendations to the ministry.

The AEA will submit input on behalf of commercial agriculture to this commission. The management of the Agriculture Employers' Association (AEA) recently held discussions with the labour minister, Uutoni Nujoma, to inform him about the current labour issues in agriculture.

According to the Namibian Agricultural Union (NAU), the bi-annual wage report of the AEA last year indicated that that farmworkers' wages on commercial farms are 69% higher than the minimum wage for farmworkers.

According to the report, while the current minimum wage agreement sets N$4.62 as the basic cash wage per hour for a general farmworker, the survey indicates that on average, general farmworkers received N$9.31 per hour in 2019/2020.

“The AEA wants to initiate negotiations this year to adjust the minimum wage for farmworkers, as the current minimum wage of 2017 is now obsolete.”

The NAU said that farming prospects have also improved significantly after the good rains.

The union added that during the meeting it was agreed to revive the Namibia Agricultural Labour Forum, which is a three-party forum where the three agricultural unions and the farmworkers' union discuss labour matters of common interest.

Nujoma was also informed about the AEA's farmworker project and what has been done during the past two years to improve the standard of living on farms and to help them with retirement planning.

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