WINDHOEK: The National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) has called on the public to mobilise for a protest against the legal challenge on labour hire brought by the Namibia Employers’ Federation (NEF) and its affected members.
NUNW Secretary-General Evilastus Kaaronda on Wednesday accused the NEF of being opposed to the new regulation of labour hire after the organisation itself called for its regulation.
“All workers throughout the country must begin to mobilise themselves, and start preparing for a public protest against the legal challenge brought by the NEF and its affected members.
We must challenge the audacity of the NEF and its affected members, and remind them that they are the ones that called for the regulation of labour hire, and now that labour hire is regulated, they simply do not like the nature of the regulation,” he ranted during a media conference.
Kaaronda accused employers who are taking advantage of the current uproar created by the misinformation drive of the NEF to lay off workers, just to “teach Government and trade unions a lesson”.
NUNW, therefore, called on the NEF to behave like responsible citizens, and channel their concerns through the appropriate structures.
Approached for comment, NEF Secretary-General Tim Parkhouse told Nampa on Wednesday that the NEF did not launch a challenge against the regulation of labour hire.
Africa Personnel Services (APS), a labour hire company and member of the NEF, last week made an eleventh-hour court bid to stop the implementation of the amended Labour Act.
Government and the NEF have been at loggerheads over amendments to the Labour Act that 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.
As such, the worker enjoys the same rights as other employees of the company under the Labour Act, including protection against unfair dismissal, and the choice to belong to a trade union.
The Act further stipulates that the company has to hire the worker on the same terms and conditions as its other employees. It also introduces a presumption of indefinite employment for any worker, unless the company can justify a fixed-term contract.
On the Labour Act, Section 128, Kaaronda said it was thoroughly debated, and concerns from all stakeholders were factored into the legislation in a manner that balances what are otherwise conflicting interests of the social partners.
“The new definition and the presumption clause as to who is an employee is most welcome, as it now erases all ambiguities associated with the presence or infusion of labour hire in the employment relationships,” he said.
The NUNW also welcomed the presumption that an employee is hired for an indefinite duration if there is no rebuttal by way of justification by the employer as to the short-term nature of the contract.