The Namibia Farm Workers Union (NAFWU) has criticized a recent Wage Survey Report published by the Agriculture Employers’ Association citing that the report is misleading as it only represents a mere “five per cent” of the farm employee population.
Speaking to The Patriot earlier this week, NAFWU Secretary General Rocco Nguvauva complained the survey conducted AEA depicted a picture that was further fetched from reality and even questioned the credibility of the survey altogether.
“That survey should go through the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) to clarify whether the information is correct or not,” he said.
“AEA should not mislead the nation (that the average wage of farm workers is N$1975.12), we all know that farm workers in commercial farms and communal farms are among the lowest paid members because only five per cent of employers pay more than N$1975.12 or even N$2000.00,” said Nguvauva.
Nguvauva further said his union was working tirelessly to ensure that a new minimum wage for farm workers is put in place despite several attempts that failed to yield positive results this year.
“We had a minimum wage that we’re pushing through although it failed as we reached a deadlock,” added Nguvauva.
Furthermore, Nguvauva wrote a letter to the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry through the ministry’s advocates to find solutions to the “deadlock”.
Nguvauva called on farm workers to join his union saying they (NAFWU) were the right people to represent all farm workers across the country, both in commercial and communal farms.
Furthermore, animal technician Venomukona Tjiseua said whether the N$1975.12 average wage for farm workers is sufficient depends heavily on the type of work that they do on the farm.
“The salary of farm workers should depend on the type of work they do, for some workers who do maintenance of farm infrastructure and herd livestock this is not enough,” lamented Tjiseua.
However, Tjiseua added that the amount was sufficient for those farm employees whoes duties are less and work for fewer hours provided that the employer provides them with “milk, meat and other farm produce” as the law requests.
Seemingly agreeing with Tjiseua, AEA Chairpesron Christin Stoman said the amount that was currently being paid to commercial farm workers was “way above” the required minimum wage.
“The current minimum wage is N$3.70 per hour and the current average (N$6.90 per hour) is way above the minimum wage,” said Stoman.
Furthermore, Stoman added that if all the other benefits that farm workers are entitled to are taken into account, the employees are indeed well taken care of.
Stoman said, apart from the average N$1975.12, farm workers get other benefits in “kind” such as food, electricity, water and transport which other employees in towns have to pay for.
Last week, AEA published a report in which it highlighted remuneration packages for commercial farm workers. The newly released report represents data collected for 3497 farm employees for the 2015/2016 financial year.
Every second year, AEA carries out a study to determine the average pay that farm workers earn per month. AEA is an affiliate of the Namibia Agriculture Union (NAU).
The remuneration packages include a cash wage, a cash allowance, dry rations, other farm produced food (all of which constitute toward monetary remuneration or basic salary), wet rations, housing as well as free transport.
It must be taken into consideration that the calculated pay package did not include bonuses, clothing, school and hostel fees, pension and social security contributions as well as free water and electricity.
The current minimum wage for farm employees stands at N$3.70 per hour for a general farm worker, while the report by AEA indicates that an average semiskilled worker received N$6.90 during the 2015/2016 financial year.
The first report of its kind was carried out in 1998 and the purpose of the Wage Report is to provide sound and reliable statistical information regarding the labour in the commercial agricultural sector for local and international use.
According to the report, out of the 3497 surveyed employees, 57 received a cash wage that is below the minimum hourly rate of N$3.70. Those workers were paid between N$2.02 and N$3.69 according to the report.
What remains a sad reality is that, despite pay increments in other employment sectors over the years, farm wage has failed to double over the last 14 years. According to reports, the total remuneration package for farm workers stood at N$1211 in 2002 and N$3320 in 2016. That makes a difference of just N$2109 over 14 years.
The remuneration packages for farm workers vary from region to region.
Omaheke and //Karas are the leading regions in terms of remuneration packages for farm workers with an average of N$3450.
Not so far below them are Khomas with N$3357, followed by Otjozondjupa and Hardap both at N$3291 and Kunene at N$3053.
The least average wage packages according to the report are Erongo with N$2982 and the Oshikoto region that pays N$2777.