WINDHOEK: The Namibia Employers’ Federation (NEF) has denied any wrongdoing in their input regarding debate on the amendments of the Labour Act, but has accused Government of turning a blind eye to the recommendations made by employers.
NEF Secretary-General Tim Parkhouse said in a media statement issued on Thursday that Government decided to follow an ‘expediently short-term ideological route’, which was dictated by the unions.
“Government is totally unjust to now try to place the blame on employers. Government should have the courage to admit their errors, and with tripartite consultation, rewrite this piece of legislation. This is what the NEF has urged,” he stressed.
Parkhouse was speaking in defence of the NEF, which came under fire during a media conference organised by the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) on Wednesday.
NUNW Secretary-General Evilastus Kaaronda accused the NEF of opposing the new regulation of labour hire after the organisation initially called for it to be regulated.
Kaaronda then called on members of the public to mobilise for a protest against the alleged legal challenge brought by the NEF and its affected members.
He was referring to a court bid brought by labour hire company and member of the NEF, Africa Personnel Services (APS), last week to stop the implementation of the amended Labour Act.
Parkhouse said the NEF did not launch a challenge against the regulation of labour hire, and is not challenging the government, but said the challenge is being undertaken by a private legal company, being APS.
Government and the NEF have been at loggerheads over amendments to the Labour Act, which came into effect on 01 August 2012.
The new regulations stipulate that when a company uses a casual worker from a labour hire agency, that worker becomes an employee of the company.
Last month, local media reported that Labour Minister Immanuel Ngatjizeko accused NEF of spearheading a campaign intended to frighten employers and to hold the Namibian nation hostage.
Ngatjizeko said the NEF has asked for the Labour Amendment Act of 2012 to be scrapped and claimed that the new law was certain to cause unemployment.
NEF also said it would scare off investors and would cause further social instability in the country.
However, Parkhouse stated that the federation has always and will continue to stand by Government in its quest for job-creation and poverty alleviation, but Government should also be seriously attentive to employers’ recommendations.
He indicated that NEF has always called for “smart regulation, not over-regulation”, and claimed that what is now being implemented is over-regulation to the degree that labour hire is effectively “killed”.
“We have made it clear to Government that increasing over-regulation of the labour market continues to add to the cost of employment and thus, ultimately, to the reduction of the numbers permanently employed.
Flexibility of labour to cover the peaks and troughs of staffing demands, and to cover the variables of economic fluctuations, is vital in all economies of the world. Well-organised, smartly regulated labour hire is a vital sector of the world’s economy today. Namibia is no different,” he added.