The labour ministry managed to facilitate payments worth more than N$1.8 million to employees owed by employers during the 2020/21 financial year.
The payments emanated from 5 430 labour complaints lodged by affected employees, which was an increase of 966 labour complaints, compared to 2019/2020.
According to Bro-Matthew Shinguadja, executive director in the labour ministry, the complaints were mostly lodged by employees whose basic conditions of employment as stipulated in the Labour Act were contravened by their respective employers. These contraventions ranged from non-payment of remuneration, unlawful deductions, unpaid overtime and severance payments, amongst others.
Most of the complaints (1 505) were registered during the first quarter of the last financial year, which was the same period during which Namibia recorded its first positive cases of Covid-19.
Shinguadja said the number of labour complaints registered gradually decreased per quarter, with quarter four only registering 1 241 labour complaints.
More complaints (2 808) were received from the central regions covering Rehoboth, Windhoek, Gobabis, Okahandja, Omaruru, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, followed by the north-eastern regions covering Rundu, Nkurenkuru, Katima Mulilo, Grootfontein, Tsumeb and Otavi (943), southern regions covering Keetmanshoop, Mariental, Karasburg, Noordoewer, Rosh Pinah, Oranjemund and Lüderitz (927), the northern regions covering Oshakati, Ondangwa, Eenhana, Outapi (489), and 263 registered in the north-western regions covering Outjo, Opuwo, Kamanjab, Otjiwarongo and Khorixas.
Although the ministry managed to successfully resolve 4 176 (77%) of the registered labour complaints, it’s still seized with a challenge of some employers who are untraceable due to various reasons such as ignoring communication or changes in physical addresses of the parties that contributes to a number of unresolved labour complaints.
“Unresolved labour complaints are referred as labour disputes to the labour commissioner for conciliation or arbitration, adding to labour cases that have been lodged directly with the Labour Commissioner,” Shinguadja explained.
The arbitrators issue arbitration awards (judgements) that can be successfully enforced by labour inspectors and sent for the attachment of goods for auction by the deputy sheriffs in order to settle outstanding payments to affected employees.
Employers and employees are urged to solve labour issues amicably, or source advice from the ministry to avoid labour disputes.