Government is compiling a list of all non-compliant employers so that appropriate action can be taken, including the assessment of their business licences and whether the ministry should broaden section 138 of the Labour Act, minister of labour Utoni Nujoma has said.
Nujoma speaking at the panel discussion at the Covid-19 communication centre yesterday, said the strategy can include anti-union employers, and employers that lack mandate hence got their instructions from outside Namibia to retrench or issue illegal
“The strategy will include registration of employees who firstly lost their jobs during the lockdown period only, and eventually those
who will lose their jobs because of the state of emergency itself,” Nujoma said.
He said the registration also aims at capturing the expertise and skills in different industries and occupations these former employees have that will be used to assist in “returning Namibia to work strategy.”
“Employers will not be allowed to rely on foreign experts anymore unless proof will be provided that such skills and expertise are truly not available in Namibia,” Nujoma said, adding this can also determine the retrain ability and reskilling of former employees in relevant and comparable fields.
Furthermore, Nujoma says the tripartite consultative meetings held agreed employers should not lay off their employees during the state of emergency particularly the lockdown part of it as the first resort.
Nujoma urged parties to explore other avenues provided for in law such as section 12(6) of the Labour Act as a legal window to manage the situation during the current state of emergency,
“Where retrenchment was absolutely unavoidable, parties are advised to consult and strictly adhere to sections 34 & 35 of the Labour Act (Act 11 of 2007),” Nujoma said.
He urged the Social Security Commission (SSC) and other State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) to work out a mechanism to assist the affected employers and employees in mitigating job losses and income, as well as ensuring business sustainability.
“Employers should not unilaterally take decisions to force their employees to take leave, unpaid leave or any other leave, but rather to genuinely engage trade unions, workplace representatives or employees on these issues before any decision is taken,” stated the labour minister.
Nujoma called on relevant agencies to explore the possibility of price control in the wake of prices of essential goods being increased, and a public notice should be issued to guide both employers and unions.
Speaking at the same occasion, SSC CEO Milka Mungunda said the commission will give wage subsidies to sectors which have been affected more by Covid-19, such as construction, farming, manufactures, retailers, transport, domestic workers, and entertainment among others.
Mungunda said they will be conditions attached to the process.
Subsidies will include the months of April, May and June, provided they are SSC members. She also said if they receive state subsidies, they will not get paid.
She said the commission wants to provide a safety net for people who do not earn more than N$50 000 per year. She emphasised that all the information will be provided on their website.
Companies will also get a contribution holiday from the commission.
N$700 million is budgeted for the formal sector. Mungunda appealed to the public not to make phone calls to the commission about Covid-19 as people are working from home and every engagement will be done online.