• September 18th, 2018
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Labour ministry urged to address workplace discrimination


Staff Reporter Windhoek-The federation of employers and the Namibian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), together with the labour ministry, have been given six months by the ombudsman to implement recommendations that will address the many forms of discrimination currently experienced at workplaces. The recommendations include that the Employers Federation of Namibia and NCCI ensure that “job advertisement, interviewing and testing procedures are free from bias”, and that senior and middle management are trained to become aware of the many ways in which discrimination can be manifested in the workplace. The ombudsman, Advocate John Walters, asked the two institutions to ensure that steps are taken to “broaden the pool of candidates for jobs among previously disadvantaged groups, especially for women, people with disabilities and indigenous people”. Other recommendations include “increase[ing] the rate at which suitably qualified members of previously disadvantaged groups are hired”, and to “speed up their promotion prospects”. The Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation (labour ministry) has been asked to specifically ensure that the Labour Commission “creates awareness among employers and employees of the prohibition of discrimination in employment and the remedies available to victims”. The other tasks include developing and disseminating programmes and strategies to eliminate discrimination in employment and providing support to victims of discrimination. The Labour Commission is also asked to “speedily resolve, through mediation, arbitration or conciliation, disputes relating to discrimination in employment, [and] if it fails, assist workers who wish to enforce their rights through the courts, to apply for legal aid.” The recommendations are contained in the report by the ombudsman and indicate that effective remedies for racism are unavailable or unhelpful to victims of racism, racial discrimination and discrimination in general. The report suggests the creation of informal and inexpensive tribunals where victims can tell their stories “so that systemic inequalities, racism, racial discrimination may be eradicated”. This is because, says Walters, “our anti-discrimination law fails dismally to bring about social change as it disempowers those who experience racial discrimination.” Part of the report also draws on the 2016 recommendations by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights that asked the country to equip the labour inspectorate office with the “necessary human and financial resources for the effective application of the Labour Act and other relevant enactments”. The report deals with issues of access to justice, derogatory expression and racial slurs, disability and education, rights to employment, health, land resettlement, sport, and issues of lesbianism, gayism, bisexualism and transgender. The many observations presented in the report, and anecdotes of experiences and complaints gathered from the public through a national enquiry, speak of a public that is unhappy with how work opportunities are shared among the country’s diverse tribal mix. The major complaint is that 80 percent of job opportunities and the workforce in the country, are with one tribal group, especially in the security forces. A general complaint was that a Khwe person who has completed Grade 12 is not employed “because it is said that a Khwe cannot teach”, while a non-Khwe person who is a Grade 10 dropout can easily find employment. There are also complaints that non-educated people are discriminated against, because the interviews for menial jobs such as a cleaner or driver are still conducted in English. This discriminates against the candidates who might be qualified to clean or drive but are unable to speak English, the report says. The ombudsman assumed a national inquiry to assess the extent to which human rights violations in terms of racism, racial discrimination, tribalism and discrimination in general are still perpetrated in the country. This was necessitated by concluding observations and recommendations by the UN treaty monitoring committee with regard to racism and racial discrimination, and media reports on persistence of racism, tribalism and racial discrimination in the country.
2017-11-29 09:05:13 9 months ago
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