Labour ministry collects almost N$600 000 on behalf of unpaid workers

Erasmus Shalihaxwe

The Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation has collected a total amount of N$594 813.00 of unpaid wages on behalf of affected workers from their employers who failed to honour salary agreements.

A quarterly report for the period of July and September 2023, released this week by the Acting Executive Director in the ministry Aune Mudjanima, revealed these statistics.

The report indicates that the ministry dealt with a total of 1082 labour complaints from different employees, mostly on unsettled remunerations. As a result, an amount of N$594 813.00 was collected on behalf of affected employees.

As per the Labour Act, the ministry has also conducted 600 workplace inspections to determine the compliance levels in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment (BCoE) during the period under review. The compliance level was pleasing, whereby 517 of the inspected workplaces were found to be in compliance, and the inspections were conducted in the Fishing, Agriculture and Hospitality sectors.

The Ministry also stated that as it continues administering the Namibia Integrated Employment Information System, which serves a purpose amongst others; matching jobseekers and potential employers. Of the 3927 referred jobseekers by the Ministry to different prospective employers, only 288 jobseekers were placed for employment. With the Fishing sector absorbing 94 workers, Public Administration, Defence, and Social Security 49 and the Agriculture sector taking 49.

“In addition, 4546 jobseekers were registered, whereby the majority are female (2555) while 1991 are male jobseekers. About 635 individuals received career counselling including testing for selection from the Ministry.

Namibia ratified the International Labour Organisation Convention 190 which deals with the elimination of violence and harassment from the world of work in 2020. In order to give effect to the full implementation of this Convention, the Ministry trained 85 Change Agents in the Wholesale & Retail, Security sector and Service sectors in Windhoek and Oshakati,” reads the report.

The ministry, through the Office of the Labour Commissioner, has also noted a growing negative trend by most of the registered trade unions and employers’ organisations who fail to honour their obligations of submitting their Annual Returns to the Labour Commissioner.

“During this Quarter, only two Annual Returns were received. The Office issued a communique to all the registered trade unions and employers’ organisations, reminding them of this legal requirement. As such, they only have up to 30 November 2023 to fulfil such obligation, failure to do so will lead to appropriate action by the Labour Commissioner,” said the ministry. The ministry further announced that the Office of the Labour Commissioner has handled a number of 2048 labour cases during the quarter, showing an increase of 118 cases compared with the previous quarter. The Office is still faced with a challenge of pending cases, whereby it recorded 979 pending cases this Quarter.

“This is mostly attributed to postponements either by parties or Arbitrators; ongoing negotiations by parties as well as few Arbitrators whose dairies are mostly fully booked due to many cases that the ministry receives. The situation of Arbitrators being fully booked with cases also contributes to having insufficient time to prepare and issue Awards within a prescribed legal time. Of the handled cases, 1069 cases were successfully resolved, whereby 747 cases were resolved at conciliation while 322 were resolved at the arbitration level,” the ministry announced.

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