Windhoek-Two traditional leaders of the Ovaherero Traditional Authority have expressed their opinions on the minimum wages for farmworkers, and encouraged especially employers in the communal areas to promptly pay their workers.
The Agricultural Employers Association (AEA), the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU), the Namibia Emerging Commercial Farmers Union (NECFU) and the Namibia Farmworkers Union (NAFWU) recently agreed to an increase of 25 percent in the minimum wage of farmworkers, which was set in 2014.
This means an increase of N$3,70 to N$4,62 per hour or N$900 a month for a worker who works a 45-hour week.
Farm employers, who do not provide their workers with free rations, must now provide them with an N$500 a month food allowance, an increase of N$100. This brings the total minimum wage for a farmworker to N$1,400 per month.
Chief Picket Kapukare from the Okotjituuo communal area in the Okakarara Constituency, spoke on the Omurari Wondjivisiro Ombaranga, the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) about the issue of farm workers.
He appealed to part-time farmers from his area working in urban centres, to become closer to their homesteads and in particular to develop a closer interest in their farming.
The chief urged part-time farmers to give more attention to the payment of their farmworkers by, amongst others, ensuring that they pay these workers in time.
By coincidence the Chief Kapukare had scheduled a meeting in the village of Ongongoro in the area which was going to raise the issues pertaining to farmworkers, including the non-remuneration of workers, employing workers without the necessary national identification documents and recycling workers.
He says it is necessary for these farmers to remain close to their homesteads to maintain their values, and one way of doing this is by remunerating workers in time.
He says farmer and their workers need one another and where there is a good farmer/employee relationship there will also be a good worker. Equally, where there is bad farmer/employee relationship there would be a bad worker.
Thus bad attitudes on the part of both the farmer and the worker cannot enhance farmer-worker relations. If the farmer develops the habit of not paying his/her worker in time, equally the worker will develop a non-caring attitude to his work, says the traditional leader.
He says there are farmers who by nature are ill disposed towards paying workers, while there are also farmers who employ workers while they cannot afford such workers. Still other farmers employ more workers than necessary thus taking on more than they are able to chew in terms of paying these workers.
Kapukare also raises the pertinent point of farmers employing workers at the mandatory minimum wage knowing well that they are not able to afford such a minimum wage.
While cautioning farmers against looking down on workers he also advises them not to employ workers when they do not need them. He says it also advisable not only to pay workers in time, but constantly and consistently so that skipping payment does not become a burden on the farmer.
He says it also necessary for the farmer and the worker to consider the rations of the worker and whether she/he agrees to the rations like having to share meals with the farmer or his/her homestead’s family, or whether the worker would prefer to prepare his own meals and thus either she/he is given rations or allowances on top of his wages in this regard. The traditional leader says it is also necessary for the farmer and the worker to agree on the means of payment like whether the farmer would be selling an animal every month to honour the wages or whether such wages would be paid through the bank via a stop order to avoid any misunderstanding.