Employment creation biggest challenge to Labour Ministry

By Lahja Nashuuta

Windhoek- Employment creation is the main challenge facing the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, Minister Erkki Nghimtina said in a recent interview..

Upon his ascendency to the Namibian presidency, President Hage Geingob made a series of changes to ministerial portfolios, including the mandate of the formerly Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare which was expanded to include industrial relations and employment creation.

Asked about the challenges facing the ministry after its mandate was expanded, Nghimtina pointed out employment creation component as the main challenge.

“This component has all along been there but now it requires a focused coordination, monitoring and evaluation approach. As it is evidently clear, almost everyone is talking about employment creation but nobody knows how many jobs were created, the quality of the jobs claimed to have been created by whom and for who, their duration and where are they.

“These and other challenges have to be properly synchronised, evaluated and contextualised as there are so many disjointed initiatives and efforts, projects and programmes all in the name of

employment creation. They now need proper coordination from a credible single point to make them relevant and align them to the NDP4 (Fourth National Development Plan) Strategic Objectives on Employment Creation,” the minister explained.

In an effort to reform the Namibian labour sector, the ministry has made changes to existing legislation including the amendments to the Labour Act of 2007, which discourage labour hire in the country.

However, Minister Nghimtina emphasised that the Labour Amendment Act (Act 2 of 2012) has not banned labour hire, as it has been hyped in the media.

“The government has nothing to do with labour hire. What the amended Act has addressed is the employment relationship between employers and the user enterpriser (employer. The user enterpriser is the employer in the eyes of this Labour Amendment Act.

“If the user enterpriser decides to use employees through a labour hire outfit that does not diminish its employer’s duties and obligations in anyway. All claims and disputes remain with the user enterpriser or the principal employer in the other words,” he explained.

As for the Employment Service Act of 2011, Nghimtina said the ministry is putting some final touches to make it fully operational.

“These are, in the ordinary language, regulations and gazetting processes. Once those have been finalised, we can then elaborate further and this will be in few weeks from now,” he said.

Namibia has seen the mushrooming of trade unions vying for members in relatively small labour market.

There are tens of trade unions affiliated to the country’s three federations, namely the Namibia National Labour Organisation (NANLO),

Trade Union Congress of Namibia (TUCNA) and The National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW).

Whether these unions are serving the best interests of Namibian workers, according to Minister Nghimtina,  is the question employees themselves have to answer.

“There are around 40 trade unions registered to operate in the labour market of about 700 000 Namibian workforce. Whether they are serving the interest of employees or not that is a question employees themselves have to answer. For the ministry (the Labour Commissioner in particular) is to register applicant trade unions and employees organisations once their applications have met legal requirements as set out in the Labour Act,” he said.

Meanwhile, he called on journalists to “take a keen, consistent and constant interest in labour relations matters rather than only approaching us when there is a strike or dispute”.

He added that: “Labour issues are social daily activities that need to be well understood, analysed, contextualised and correctly disseminated. Any single mistake in presenting these issues or some of them has a huge potential to destabilise the labour market and thus fuelling unnecessary labour conflicts.”

Featured Image:Erkki Nghimtina

September 2015
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