• September 28th, 2020

Lockdown challenge ruling deferred 

Three judges of the Windhoek High Court on Friday deferred their ruling on an urgent application by the Namibian Employers Federation (NEF) and six others to declare the regulations in terms of Covid-19 that makes it a criminal offence to unilaterally retrench employees or decrease their remuneration.

Judge Shafimana Ueitele, together with judges Thomas Masuku and Hannelie Prinsloo, indicated they will give their ruling on 23 June after hearing oral arguments from lawyers Raymond Heathcote, Tuhafeni Muhongo and Theo Barnard for the applicants and Sakeus Akweenda for the respondents.

The applicants are the NEF, the Namibian Employers Association, Huab Safari Ranches, John Meinert Printing, FP du Toit Transport, Jet X Couriers and Skycore Aviation.
The respondents are the President, the attorney general, the ministers of health and labour, the labour commissioner, government, the National Union of Namibian Workers, Trade Union Congress of Namibia, Namibia National Labour Organisation, Namibia Transport and Allied Workers Union and the Mine Workers Union of Namibia.

The applicants are asking the High Court to declare the impugned regulations null and void, as, according to them, they are in contravention of their rights as enshrined in the labour laws.
These regulations are forced unpaid leave, annual leave or reductions in salaries, among others. 
According to them, the decision by President Hage Geingob to suspend the provisions of the labour law was “irrational, unjustifiable and unreasonable.” 

In an affidavit filed by Daan Strauss, the secretary general of NEF, says the President exceeded the limits of his constitutional powers and acted irrationally and unreasonably when he introduced retroactive criminalisation of conduct by employers that was perfectly legal under the Labour Law prior to 28 April, and removed or significantly weakened several carefully crafted mechanisms within the Labour Act.
They claimed these mechanisms were critical to the survival of businesses and employers, especially in time of crisis. 
He further said these measures (the regulations) also transgress Articles 10, 12(3), 22 and 26(5) of the constitution.
“Their aim is to protect workers, not to prevent the spread of the virus,” he said.

Labour minister Utoni Nujoma rubbished the claims of the applicants, saying everything was done to protect the nation as a whole. According to him, the pandemic brought unprecedented consequences that had to be dealt with promptly and decisively. Ordering a total lockdown and a stay at home was necessary to contain the virus.
– rrouth@nepc.com.na

Roland Routh
2020-06-01 09:52:08 | 3 months ago

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