WINDHOEK: Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Immanuel Ngatjizeko says every country in the world provides for the designation of essential services in its laws, and Namibia is no exception.
At a media conference on Friday, Ngatjizeko dismissed local media reports that Government “is on the verge of trampling on important rights of Namibian workers” with its plans to have certain sectors of the economy declared essential services.
“This is simply not true. Our government is bound by the Rule of Law. When I receive the reports and recommendations from the Labour Advisory Council (LAC) concerning these investigations, I will duly consider them and will act in accordance with the requirements of the Labour Act, No 11 of 2007. The process of investigating possible essential service is ongoing,” he explained.
Ngatjizeko said Government has been, and will continue to commit itself to, promoting and protecting the rights of both employers and employees as provided for in the Namibian Constitution and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention.
Essential services involve a service of which the interruption thereof would endanger life, personal safety or the health of the whole or any part of the Namibian population, and which has been designated as such in terms of Section 77 of the Labour Act, No 11 of 2007.
Ngatjizeko said the Essential Service Committee has engaged in two investigations so far. The first round included municipal and town councils, as well as private and public hospitals after public hearings were conducted earlier this year.
The second round, which continues next week, included the aviation, port and electricity services.
The committee received a pat on the back from Ngatjizeko for carrying out its mandate professionally and in accordance with the Labour Act.
The minister said the committee however “unfortunately” sent its recommendations directly to him, and he had to send these back because the recommendations must come from the LAC after it considers the recommendation and report of the committee.
Ngatjizeko is yet to receive the recommendations and report from the LAC.
The committee is charged by the Labour Act with making recommendations to the LAC, which will then submit a report and recommendations to the minister. If he (the minister) decides to designate any of the services as essential services, he must do so by notice in the Government Gazette.
Section 77 makes provision for an emergency procedure for the designation of an essential service.
In such cases the investigation, recommendation and decision are done according to deadlines set out in the section.
“I should add that where proposals are made for the designation of essential services, interested parties are also able to make submissions or oral representations opposing the designation,” he added.
Committee members are John Kwedhi (Chair) representing the Namibian Transport and Allied Workers Union (Natau); Manfred Jatamunua representing the Trade Union Congress of Namibia (Tucna); Dr Johan van Rooyen representing the Namibian Employers’ Federation (NEF); Isai Katambo representing the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW); and Nehemia Salomon, representing the Association of Local Authorities (ALAN).
Michael Skini from the Henties Bay Municipality is an alternate member.