News Column

SPYL Condemns "Slave Wages"

July 16, 2014

John Muyamba

The Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) Secretary for Labour, Paulus Mbangu, has appealed to employers across the country to treat their employees with respect and dignity and to desist from exploiting workers.

Mbangu said that in recent months, the department of labour in the SPYL has noted with great concern the continued exploitation of workers in Namibia. According to him, some employers in the private sector especially those in the mining, retail, construction, security and fishing sectors exploit their workers with impunity.

Mbangu said SPYL is also disturbed by the fact domestic workers and those in the charcoal sector still get paid "slave wages."

He further said the SPYL is also saddened by the development in the mining sector where some companies such as the Rossing Uranium mine and the Rosh Pinah Lead and Zinc mine are threatening workers with retrenchment.

Looking at the latest statistics obtained by The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) it show that the mining sector performed moderately well in 2013 and contributed 9.3 percent of the country's gross domestic product(GDP) in 2013. According to preliminary figures released by the NSA in march 2014, exports from mining sector reached N$20.87 billion to which must be added exports of copper and refined zinc, giving a bringing the total to N$25.2 billion in 2013.

Therefore the decision to retrench more than 400 workers in the mining sector flies in the face of the objectives of SWAPO Party 2009 Election Manifesto, according to Mbangu.

He added that established companies like Rossing Uranium should not be allowed to increase the army of the unemployed in this country, "It is our shared hope that the progressive NUNW will equally condemn this worrisome trend as it was announced recently that the Ministry of Labour and Social services and the Namibian National farmers Union approved the salary increment of 26 cents per hour totalling N$28.00 per month added to farm workers salary in an independent Namibia. It took nearly five years to adjust the salaries of the farm workers. We have also noted with sadness the antagonism between employers and employees that currently prevails in the construction industry, retail industry, security and fishing sector. We are further saddened by the local authorities who are deliberately selling land to foreigners and making the land prices so exorbitant to an extend that that most low income earners can't afford it."

"We are further laments the reported maladministration at Air Namibia. The airline continues to bleed millions of dollars despite their promise for turnaround strategy. Every sovereign nation takes pride in its own airline and institutions. However, these events at Air Namibia make it difficult to defend it. Clearly the management and the board of directors should explain why is it that qualified Namibians like Sheelongo are purged and so - called European experts are shipped in like a modern white Jesus to christianise the pagan Namibia?" Mbangu queried.

At the end SPYL had the following to say: "We condemn the recent salary adjustment of farm workers as it is too low and must never be repeated in an independent Namibia again. It took nearly five years to adjust the salaries of the farm workers and to be given a 26 cents increment is shameful. We condemn the position of the Rossing Uranium Mine Management on retrenchment.

The dry statistics of the Chamber of Mines and Rossing Uranium Mine tells us nothing about the human misery that will be created by the joblessness, homelessness, and poverty that will affect hundreds of workers and their dependent as a result of retrenchments. We urge Rossing Uranium mine to use last year's profit to cover the current reduction in spot prices. We also condemn the high land prices in all local authorities across the country. We would like to remind all local authorities that the struggle for national liberation was about land.

We urge all local authorities to sell land to the youth, we in the same vein condemn all construction companies that are transgressing the minimum wage payment. We urge the Ministry of Finance to withdraw all government tenders given to construction companies that are transgressing the minimum wage payment." Mbangu said, adding that the SPYL welcomes the introduction of Mass Housing Project, but says their houses are too expensive for low income earners and thus urge the government and NHE to regulate the prices and make it affordable to low income earners. He further urged and condemn all employers who are transporting workers in open trucks to stop this practice with immediate effect.

"We want the Labour Advisory Council to regulate the charcoal industry as soon as possible as charcoal workers are not covered by the Labour Act, the Labour Advisory Council must introduce the National Minimum Wage without delay in order to reduce poverty, increase productivity and to counter balance the effects of monopsonic employers (Employers are only after profit) and to remove the crying injustices perpetuated against the proletariat. We therefore also urge the Ministry of Works to pressurise the Air Namibia Board to release the Delloite Forensic Audit on the operations of the company. No worker must bear the brunt of Air Namibia's poor administration, workers salary must be improved and none should be retrenched and we further urge the Ministry of local Government and Housing to enact a law to make the selling of land to foreigners illegal."

According to Mbangu, the government must subsidise the servicing of town land to make houses affordable to the poor, the SPYL secretary for labour also commended MANWU for spearheading the positive adjustment of the minimum wage in the construction industry adding that the Ministry of Labour must now liaise with the Ministry of Education to look into the issues of charcoal worker's children who are not attending schools and take necessary steps, adding that the Office of the Prime Minister Emergency Management unit must include Charcoal workers in its drought relief programme and all Namibian mines must provide decent accommodation to their workers.

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Source: AllAfrica

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