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Retail union wants minimum wages

The lack of minimum wages for employees in the retail sector remains a huge challenge for the Namibia Wholesale & Retail Workers Union (NWRWU), as it hampers the union from adequately protecting its members.
Other challenges the union is faced with, are the employment of workers on a casual basis, the labour hire system, the non-compliance of Chinese employers with the Labour Act, as well as the exploitation of workers in rural areas by their employers – of whom are mostly black.
In an electronic interview with the Economist this week, David Imbili, deputy general secretary of NWRWU mentioned that despite these challenges, his union is doing well.
Imbili said in comparison to the past, the union is now more representative of the retail sector and more bigger companies are now co-operating with the union and complying with the Labour Act.
“The relationship between the union and the retailers/wholesalers has changed for the better now. The involvement of some labour consultants representing the employers has assisted a lot by bringing trust and better understanding in this regard,” said Imbili.
Some of the crucial issues presented to the union by its members include huge salary gaps between black and white employees; promotions based on colour as well as problems created by foreign companies which stem from the companies confusing their home countries’ legislation with that of Namibia, said Imbili.
He called for the introduction of a minimum wage, the need for a review of the current procedures of approving licenses by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, as well as the involvement of the Affirmative Action Inspectors for the sector to improve.
“The media must also assist and not sit aside waiting for things like strikes to take place and make stories out of this,” concluded Imbili.

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