Query: Ministry of Labour, the majority of Namibian workers’ rights are violated every single day. Yet, despite the fact that the government pumps millions of dollars into your ministry, the labour offices nationwide are ineffective and officials are easily bribed to ignore work-related complaints by employees. Please wake up from slumber, before it too late.
Response: The Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation is mandated by the State to ensure implementation of the Labour Act of 2007 in the country. However, it is important to take note of the boundaries under which the ministry operates, as per the aforementioned Act. While the Ministry of Labour is mandated to ensure that the Labour Act is complied with, it is beyond this ministry’s prerogative to take any actions, contrary to those stipulated in the Labour Act.
The Labour Act has outlined areas of jurisdiction, under which this ministry is expected to operate. Thus the ministry always draws lines to determine what is expected of it, without compromising the laws and does not necessarily act on what and how the public assumes it should operate. With regards to the allegations of “ineffective” labour offices and “easily bribed officials”, the ministry would appreciate if the author or anyone with concrete evidence comes forth to report such cases to the relevant authorities for action.
Query: How many workers must die, become sick and lose limbs before we take the plight of workers seriously? We are sick and tired of companies that do not comply with the law regarding the health and safety of workers. Health and safety inspectors must start doing their work and roll out an inspection campaign. The ministry must as well set up a toll-free hotline, so we can report such companies.
Response: The Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation does not condone any business or operations being executed at the expense of the workers’ health and safety. It is important to inform the public that enhancing workplace health and safety is a collective responsibility of all stakeholders, including the government, employer and employees. Workers are encouraged to elect the health and safety representatives, as provided for by the Labour Act of 2007, as the affected people are usually in a better position to detect and react to early warning signs before the occurrence of accidents. Similarly, employers are urged to honour their duties, as stipulated in the same Act.
Workers and all responsible citizens are further encouraged to report non-compliance with health and safety legislation to the nearest Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation’s office or through the ministry’s SMS line: 66111.
* Maria Hedimbi, chief public relations officer in the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org