Utoni clueless on COVID-19 labour impacts

Andrew Kathindi

Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, Utoni Nujoma is clueless on the number of jobs that have been lost during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m not in a position to give figures on lost jobs. You will have to get those details from the regions,” said the minister, whose ministry is key towards providing guidance to employers and employees affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Despite admitting that the labour market was in turmoil even before the COVID-19 outbreak, the minister failed to provide estimated job loses post-outbreak and what measures were being implemented to save jobs.

“The labour industry needs to hold hands to avoid unnecessary job losses. Job losses have been happening worldwide. Workers have been working for their employers for years and it is unfair to dismiss them because of the pandemic,” he said.

Nujoma said the labour sector will undergo fundamental changes post pandemic. “The ministry will develop measures to facilitate the changes. The world is changing and people should be retained to keep up with the advent of new technologies and robotics,” he said.

Special Advisor to the Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, Vicki ya Toivo claims that no retrenchments are permitted within 28 days after the lockdown.

She further stated that employees whose health is compromised due to unsafe working conditions are allowed to stay away from the work place provided they have informed their employers why they are staying home.

“Employers should put the health of their employees first as per section 42 of the labour Act. Employees who are members of SSC can claim extended leave benefits. Employees who feel mistreated should report unfair labour practices,” ya Toivo said.

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