WINDHOEK: Labour hire agencies should not view the Labour Amendment Act of 2012 negatively, but should rather “clear up the mess and correct the injustice” to which they have subjected the Namibian people.
This was stated by Deputy Minister of Information, Communication and Technology Stanley Simataa during a media conference on Friday.
He also raised the concern that allegations “have been circulated by labour hire agencies through the media that Government’s operationalisation of the Act was done without regard to the possibility that this would increase unemployment”, saying this is untrue and unfounded.
Simataa said since the Labour Amendment Act of 2012 was operationalised on 01 August, the country has seen a lot of media reports, some of which carry statements by labour hire agencies, or employer representatives that have attempted to create a negative impression regarding Government’s regulation of the labour market and its intensions towards employment creation.
“We would like to state that such allegations are irresponsible and are aimed at instilling fear and anarchy in the country,” he noted.
Simataa gave his assurance that no massive unemployment has been caused or shall be caused by this process and further said the new law does not prevent employers from hiring employees on a temporary basis for legitimate business reasons.
“The Labour Amendment Act only closes a loophole that enabled the user enterprises to evade responsibility toward the persons working for them,” the deputy minister stated.
Through the development and enactment of the Labour Amendment Act 2012, Simataa said, Government and Parliament have made a policy choice in favour of decent work and greater protection of employees.
“Although some dislocation of temporary employees may result, Government is confident that their services will be required by Namibian employers through direct employment or through private employment agencies. We are eqully confident that this will result in the reduction of discriminatory employer practices,” he noted.
Meanwhile, at the same occasion, Special Advisor to the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Immanuel Ngatjizeko, Advocate Vicki ya Toivo warned companies that laid off casual workers since the new Labour Act came into force that they will suffer the consequences of their actions and face the wrath of the law.
According to Ya Toivo, no retrenchments have been reported with the Labour Commissioner, Bro-Matthew Shinguadja yet.
She was responding to questions from members of the media, who were enquiring about information that thousands of casual workers, especially in the fishing sector, had been let go since the Act was operationalised on 01 August.
Ya Toivo said her ministry is unaware of any retrenchment of casual workers since the beginning of the month.
“We are unaware of what you are telling us about,” she said.
Ya Toivo said labour inspectors did inspections at Swakopmund and in the capital more than a week ago and not only investigated workplaces, but also provided training to employers about the new law.
She vowed that circumstances in the labour hire sector will change soon and employers cannot just “dump” their workers.
Government and the Namibia Employers Federation (NEF) and its members have been at loggerheads over amendments to the Labour Act, which came into effect on 01 August 2012.
The new legislation stipulates that when a company uses a casual worker, that worker becomes an employee of that company on the same terms and conditions as its permanent employees, unless the company can justify a fixed-term contract.
Namibia’s largest labour-hire company, Africa Personnel Services (APS) is dragging government to court on Monday in efforts to halt the implementation of the new law.