Labour minister bemoans insufficient budget allocation

Home National Labour minister bemoans insufficient budget allocation

Labour minister Utoni Nujoma has emphasised that effectively providing service delivery, focusing on the protection of workers and improved compliance levels requires sufficient investment and budget allocations.  However, the labour ministry is currently being short-changed. 

Nujoma made these remarks last week in the National Assembly, where he submitted a motion to seek the implementation of a comprehensive monitoring system to track company compliance with Namibian laws and regulations. 

“Currently, the ministry is operating with a very inadequate complement of labour inspectors. The structures cater for 163 labour inspectors combined to conduct inspections concerning both basic conditions of employment and occupational safety and health. But only 68 positions are filled,” said a concerned minister.

He added that the remaining 95 positions are not filled, of which 62 positions are not funded due to limited budgetary provisions, and 33 positions are in the process of being filled as a result of labour turnover. 

Another challenge, Nujoma listed, is the limited, aged and worn-out ministerial fleet, which he said can leave the inspectors, arbitrators and employment officers utilising one vehicle for an entire regional office. This is because some regional offices remain without any vehicle to enable staff members to carry out their duties. The lawmaker continued that as a result of these challenges, labour inspectors only conducted 2 250 workplace inspections country-wide, of which 1 544 were to verify compliance with basic conditions of employment and 706 were to verify compliance with occupational health and safety standards, as well as the safety of the dangerous machinery.  Inspectors also attended and resolved 4 889 labour complaints, and they received and recovered some N$1.8 million from non-complying employers on behalf of complainants. 

Furthermore, the ministry received an amount of just over N$222 million for the 2024/2025 financial year.Nujoma said the internal processes for the introduction of the long-awaited national minimum wage of N$18 per hour are at an advanced stage, and it should be promulgated within this financial year.