The Namibian Employers’ Federation (NEF) looks forward to the year 2023 with a lot of optimism that the Namibian economy will recover and enable businesses to prosper and regenerate the jobs that have been lost over the past three years during the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the Bank of Namibia’s economic review for 2022, the country’s growth performance could still improve for the last year, but to moderate downwards in 2023.
As a catalyst for socio-economic growth and sustainable employment, NEF acting secretary general Helene Ochs is hopeful industries will register improved growth to tackle high unemployment rates.
“The levels of unemployment in the country are alarming, and there is a need for crafting a collective vision between government, employers and trade unions that will create an enabling environment for creating new business and employment opportunities,” she noted.
Namibia requested financial support in 2020 to deal with the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which weighed heavily on the Namibian economy, leading to a contraction of 7.9% in 2020. Weak external demand, limited fiscal space, faltering domestic confidence and restrictions on foreign visitors had put pressure on Namibia’s small and open commodity-driven economy.
These developments had the potential to exacerbate the already major challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment in the context of deep-rooted structural challenges in the business environment.
In response to the pandemic, the government rolled out an economic stimulus and relief package amounting to N$8.1 billion (4.5% of GDP), combined with a range of monetary policy measures in 2020.
The NEF leadership vowed its members are their most important focus for 2023.
“We want to offer them solutions and guidance on issues they may face, aligned with their needs. We realise that in a fast-changing environment, these will have changed as well. For that reason, we will also find out once again what their exact requirements are so that we can provide optimal value,” Ochs said.
NEF furthermore wants to celebrate its members’ successes and encourage them to continue in all areas as they speed up the economic recovery.
NEF will continue representing their members on various government committees such as the Labour Advisory Council, the Employment Service Board, the National Advisory Council on Education, the Social Security Commission, and the Anti-Corruption Commission, amongst others.
“We continue making positive and reputable representations on these committees. We also continue fostering a great tripartite relationship with government, employers and trade unions to improve Namibia’s socio-economic standing,” the unionist remarked.
On the mushrooming of workers’ unions in Namibia, NEF commented that trade unions should be genuine representatives or agents of workers, and must be guided by the best interests of the workers or members, and the essential element of good faith.
Despite being a small country, Namibia has a number of trade unions.
She explained that Namibian law provides for freedom of association, which includes the freedom to form and join trade unions; it also entrenches fundamental labour rights and protections; and regulates collective labour relations, amongst other matters.
“The Labour Act of 2007 allows for the lawful creation and joining of a trade union by employees with collective bargaining on issues of mutual concern,” she said.
Therefore, she cautioned trade unions to be genuine representatives or agents of their members, and that they must in the performance of their duties be guided by workers’ best interests
“Then, as representative of the employers, NEF values the tripartite set-up and values the engagements we have under that umbrella to ensure we solve any labour disputes that may arise,” Ochs continued.