Manica Group Namibia and NASAWU signed an substantive agreement to improve the remuneration of stevedores and other employees in the bargaining unit, yesterday (1 October 2015), after a long and arduous negotiation process that took almost three years. As a result workers in the bargaining unit had not received any salary increases since 2013. Apart from other benefits, the new agreement paves the way to increase the stevedores remuneration between N$4000 – N$9000 depending on their positions.
The workers will thus enjoy a staggered increase of 7%, 3.5% and 1%, backdated as from January 2013, July 2013 and January 2014 respectively, a further increase of 7.5% backdated from July 2014 will be granted to them. The workers’ housing allowance has also been increased. The agreement further sets out a salary increase for next year, meaning that the next negotiation process will only take place in 2017.
Last week, workers of both Manica and Namibia Stevedoring held a peaceful demonstration and handed over a petition with demands regarding better pay and benefits. In a statement after the demonstration, Manica reiterated that it was willing to negotiate and also wished to see the process completed as it viewed the situation of workers not having received a salary increase for almost three years as grossly unfair and unacceptable. “Although the company would like nothing more than to grant the employees their salary increases, it cannot, as its hands are tied by the recognition agreement with the union,” it read.
At the signing, the union noted that the process took long due to technical issues. “However, we are satisfied with the outcome of this process. We will not allow a situation where the workers are poorly paid and yet work in dangerous conditions. It is unacceptable that Namibians work hard yet are not paid enough so that they can support themselves and their families,” Hangu Paulus, the president of NASAWU said. He noted that negotiations with the other stevedoring firm, Namibia Stevedoring would continue next week.
“We wish to see a situation where the workers in the stevedoring industry receive a fair and market related salary. Unfortunately, there are some companies who pay their workers very poorly, in order to offer lower rates to their clients. This cannot be tolerated. It is unfair competition at the expense of the workers.”
A director of Manica, Kristian Woker, echoed similar sentiments and said the company was glad that the process took place in an amicable spirit. “As company representatives we have to look out for the interest of the company and its staff. Similarly, the union has a job to do in representing the workers’ interests. Manica employees in the bargaining unit earn the highest salaries in the industry by far. We would also like to see the industry improve their workers’ salaries, so that there is fair completion based on the quality of service and not on undercutting rates because of cheap labour,” he said.