Continued defiance by communal farmers to implement the state-sanctioned minimum wage for farmworkers has irked the Secretary General of the Namibia Farm Workers Union (NAFWU), Rocco Nguvauva.
Speaking to New Era this week, Nguvauva said there are a number of communal farmers that include lawmakers across the country who are failing to pay farmworkers the required minimum wage.
“I have received several complaints from farmworkers, especially in communal areas, complaining about the lack of compliance among communal farmers, specifically our lawmakers,” he said.
The current minimum wage for farmworkers stands at N$3.87 per hour and food allowance of N$400 per month.
Nguvauva says those that are not complying will face the full wrath of the law if caught.
“Let me warn you now, we are moving farm to farm, village to village to determine the culprits – if caught we will deal with you,” he said.
“We will use everything in our power to deal with those failing to honour the minimum wage.”
Nguvauva also announced that the union is currently consulting stakeholders to come up with a new minimum wage requirement.
“Farmworkers are undermined and the lowest paid workers in this country, taking home an average of less than N$1 300 per month,” he said.
“What can you do with N$1 300 these days?” he asked.
He said the agriculture sector contributes substantially to the gross domestic product (GDP) but still farmworkers are the most exploited.
Nguvauva said he was very satisfied with the cooperation among commercial farmers in complying with the farmworkers’ minimum wage requirement.
“We don’t get a lot of complaints from farmworkers on commercial farms – the only problem, as I have said, is with communal farmers.”
Referring to the recent eviction of farmworkers at Maltahöhe, Nguvauva pleaded with the government to take a lot into consideration before evicting farmworkers from farms bought by government.
“These people are born on the farms, grew up on the farms, their parents/grandparents are buried on the farms, where do we want them to go?”
“Let us sit around the table before we take a decision,” he advised.