By Kuvee Kangueehi
The Public Service Union of Namibia (PSUN) has called on the National Council to refer the Labour Bill back to the National Assembly for amendments.
At a press conference yesterday in the capital, the PSUN Secretary General Victor Kazonyati said the omission of the Prison Service from the Bill is a serious oversight both in terms of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Offenders as well as the Conventions of the International Labour
Kazonyati said in drafting the Labour Bill, consideration should have been given to the fundamental freedoms provided by the Namibian Constitution, such as Article 21 which states: “All persons shall have the right to: ‘Freedom of Association, which shall include freedom from and join Associations or Unions including Trade Unions.”
He said Namibia ratified the ILO Conventions, and the drafters of the Bill should have used the labour legislation to give effect to the practical implementation of the provision of such conventions.
Kazonyati said the PSUN has tried to bring the issue to the attention of the relevant authorities, and has written letters both to the Minister of Labour, Members of the National Council and the director general of the ILO.
The PSUN secretary general said workers and employers, without distinction whatsoever, should enjoy the rights and protections guaranteed by the conventions.
He said the advice given by the Committee of Experts, the argument that Prison Service personnel constitute a militarized formation whose system of ranks and discipline is similar to that of the police and army, as well as arguments that their functions are similar to those of the police, should not be used to justify their exclusion from the provisions of the Labour Bill.
“It is clear that the work of prison officials is inherently different from that of the police or the armed forces.”
The National Assembly passed the Labour Bill last month and some of the significant changes in the new Bill are the provisions that outlaw the concept of labour hire.