New minimum wage for guards

The minimum wage for entry-level and experienced security guards will go up by 25% and 40% respectively next year.

05 December 2016 | Labour

A national festive-season strike by security guards was averted at the eleventh hour last week when unions and security companies reached a minimum wage agreement of a 25% increase for short-term and 40% increase for long-term employees.

Effective 1 January 2017, the minimum wage for security guards across the sector will increase by 25%, from N$7 to N$8.75, marking the first phase of the agreement.

The second phase of the agreement is applicable only to security guards who have been employed for a year or more on 1 July 2017.

On that date, the minimum wage for employees who have been employed for more than a year will increase by roughly 15%, from N$8.75 to N$10 per hour.

The finalised agreement was announced on Friday, at the offices of the labour commissioner, after the relevant parties, including the Namibia Transport and Allied Workers Union (Natau), Namibia Security Guards and Watchman Union (NASGWU), Namibia Independent Security Union (Nisu), announced that consensus had been reached late last week with members of the Security Association of Namibia (SAN).





John Kwedhi, Natau general secretary, explained that the higher minimum wage rate for security guards was agreed on in order to take account of the experience and loyalty of long-term employees.

“If you compare the person who has experience and they are put in the same basket as the more non-skilled, you could create an uncomfortable situation,” he explained.

In regard to the issue of a transport, housing and danger allowance, in addition to pension, Kwedhi explained these issues were deferred to March next year in order to provide time to conduct research on the options available and to assess affordability. Negotiations addressing these demands will take place once an overview has been conducted, he said.

The newly amended minimum wage will remain applicable until the next round of wage negotiations starts in July 2018, when the wages and other relevant issues will be renegotiated.

He cautioned employees in the sector that this does not mean a new rate will kick in as from August that year, but will only be implemented once the parties have reached agreement.

Kwedhi added that according to the terms of the agreement, no back-pay will be applicable next year, as the agreement stipulated the increases will only apply as from January 2017.

He warned employers in the industry to adhere to the minimum wage increases, adding that the unions and SAN would not tolerate non-compliance.

Although the process of gazetting the new minimum wages will be started next week, he said that there have been previous cases where employers argued they would only implement the new wages once they are gazetted.

“It is a national minimum wage that is applicable to the entire sector. We will not hesitate to take any action if we find anyone not wanting to implement this agreement.”

He also urged labour inspectors to be vigilant and to ensure that the conditions and terms of the agreement will be enforced.

SAN president Dries Kannemyer, speaking on behalf of the sector''s employers, said the association was pleased an agreement could be reached and that industrial action over the festive season was stopped in its tracks.

Nevertheless, he said the financial impact of the increases will be “quite harsh for us.” He said that the business owners have to take a lot of aspects into account, including their employees, the viability of operating a business, their clients as well as the current economic situation.

He urged clients across the country to take note of the increases, as they will partly absorb the cost of pay rises.

He asked that the unions should ensure that security guards must take note of the steep minimum wage increases and that they security guards in return are expected to perform better in their jobs.

“So the knife cuts both ways, from our side and from their side, we have to work together to make sure the security industry becomes better than it is now.”

An issue that both the unions and the employers feel strongly about is the lack of regulations in the security industry, which they say is marred by fly-by-night operators who do not comply with the minimum wages or standards the industry is trying to set.

Both parties agreed during talks over the past few weeks to strengthen the security labour forum, through which they hope to improve oversight of the industry as a whole, to ensure that companies comply with the rules and regulations and to prevent scrupulous operators from gaining a foothold in the sector.



The parties on Friday emphasised the need of finalising regulations for the existing Security Act, which would boost the sector''s ability to address issues that plague the industry as well as streamline the industry.



SAN chairperson Levi Shigwedha added that customers are also responsible for enabling ruthless companies that operate outside of the scope of the industry.



He cautioned that by accepting very low rates from security companies, which make it clear that a minimum wage cannot be paid, is irresponsible and is “killing the industry.” He said the customers carry a responsibility to ensure the industry, including the security guards, are not “sabotaged” by non-compliant operators.



“The companies who do not comply, they compete with the compliant companies.”



JANA-MARI SMITH

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