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Employers Neglect Work Injuries

By: Justicia Shipena and Rudorf Iyambo

As Namibia observed Worker’s Day today, under the theme, ‘unemployment is threatening the future of our youth,’ labour expert Clement Daniels states that employers are not serious when it comes to injuries at the workplace.

This comes as the labour ministry revealed that 16 workers died at workplaces between January 2020 and March 2022.

Meanwhile, 21 were seriously injured in the same period.

“The law looks at employees’ injuries at workplaces, but that part of the law is not really implemented,” said Daniels.

Daniels said many of the people that survived injuries; the employer does don’t deem it necessary to report the cases to the ministry of labour and social security so that people get compensated.

He added that many employees are dismissed once they are injured.

“And they cannot perform at the same level as the injury because people do not have their rights to injuries at the workplace. So those cases are never reported, and as a result, people suffer in silence,” he said.

He added that there is a lack of health and safety inspectors.

“The ministry has labour inspectors, but I understand that there are no sufficient health and safety inspectors to go out to all the workers,” added Daniels.



Another labour expert Herbert Jauch says it is still challenging for workers’ rights to be enforced.

“When the worker’s right is violated, they are not treated according to the enshrined rights in the law,” he said.

He said workers’ rights on paper are enshrined but, in reality, are violated.

Jauch added that unions had played a role in putting workers’ rights into the labour act.

“But over the years, unions were often divided and showed weakness within their unions, leading to them not being able to defend these rights.”

According to him, although the labour commissioner’s office can still solve a fair number of labour cases, the process is tendinous.

“They are taking too long. For example, if a worker was unfairly dismissed for joining a trade union, this worker can’t wait long for it to be resolved to get their job back. Here they need to act quick.”

Jauch also told The Villager that women are still underrepresented in workplaces.

“There is still a gender wage gap in general. Women tend to get paid a bit less, which is around 10 per cent less than men. Gender equality is not a reality in workplaces,” he said.



Labour minister Utoni Nujoma says that there is still child labour in Namibia.

“Too many workers are subjected to violence and harassment at work, including gender-based violence and sexual harassment.”

He said a large complement of Namibian workers is trying to earn a livelihood in the informal sector without legal protection.

He encouraged workers to learn about the rights and protections guaranteed by labour and employment laws. This, according to Nujoma, includes the right to join a trade union.

Nujoma also urged the trade unions to create platforms to promote the unification of the trade union movement.

President Hage Geingob, in his May Day message, said the day is an important achievement in the fight by workers in recognition of their contributions to society and socio-economic development.

Geingob added that all Namibians, irrespective of sex, race, colour, religion, and ethnicity, can engage in any employment of their interest.

In addition, Geingob said there is legislation that guarantees and protects workers’ rights.

“Although we have made significant progress as a country to guarantee safe working environments for workers, there is still much more to be done. As we march during the Fourth Industrial Revolution by embracing automation, robotics and the Future of Work, we will align our legislation with best practices globally to ensure that the interests of the workers are protected,” he said.

Geingob also urged workers and employers to reskill and retool for Namibia to become more competitive.

Moreover, he said the public and private sectors must work in partnership to include the youth in the economy by creating more employment opportunities.

“As Namibia celebrate Workers Day, Namibians should forge ahead with renewed commitment and work together in building a fair, equitable and safe post-Covid 19 recovery for the citizens of the Namibian House.”



TUCNA secretary-general Kavihuha Mahongora said that government does not yet protect workers’ lives. He said the regulations do not favour the workers but trade unions only.

“The labour act makes provision, but the workers that will enjoy the bargaining right are only workers that work in the company that has a trade union or has enjoyed the 50 per cent. Where no trade union has 50 per cent benefits, those workers are left to the vultures,” said Mahongora.

He added that they had raised the issue on several occasions.

“This day is relevant because the workers’ pride, the exploitation of workers and many more are still prevalent,” He said.

Namibia Revoruanary Transport (Naretu)’s leader Petersen Kambinda, said that 90 per cent of employees in the transport industry are still subjected to exploitation. He said this is what led to the creation of Worker’s Day.

“But as we speak now, especially in certain industries, you could say that for the past 32 years, 90 per cent of workers are still subjected to exploitation,” said Kambinda.

He further said even workers’ fundamental rights have still been violated. He said some of the employees have been working without a contract.

“It happened that some employee’s job descriptions are coming from someone’s mouth every day. That means you don’t have an employment contract that defines and explains your job descriptions,” said Kambinda.



In its first-quarter report of the 2020/2021 financial year, the labour ministry found that Namibia witnessed massive collective termination of employment during the review period.

The report states that 388 employers retrenched a total number of 5 748 employees.

Of these employees, 1 816 were retrenched due to Covid-19 related reasons, while 3 932 were retrenched due to other causes.

The report shows that the Khomas region recorded more retrenched employees with 2 838, followed by the Erongo region with 1 309. In contrast, the Omaheke and Omusati regions recorded the least.

“Among all the regions, only Kavango-West was spared from retrenchment during this quarter,” the report reads.

In addition, the report said the ministry had to deal with 405 unfair dismissals, of which 13 were Covid-19 related.

The ministry also recorded a backlog of about 588 cases throughout the country.

Additionally, statistics show that the 25-29 age category recorded more job seekers (572), followed by 30-34 years (453) and 35-39 with 305 jobseekers registered.

At the same time, the ministry conducted 503 OSH inspections, of which 112 were regular OSH inspections, while 391 were Covid-19 inspections targeting the sectors that are considered high-risk sectors. These inspections had covered a combined total of 9 908 employees.

“It is imperative to indicate that, of the inspected workplaces, 86 (16 per cent) were found to be in good compliance with OSH Standards and Covid-19 regulations while 34 per cent and 49 per cent were recorded as average and poor, respectively.

The medical and pharmaceutical sectors recorded the highest reasonable compliance rate with 45 per cent, followed by retail, which recorded a 38 per cent reasonable compliance rate. The agriculture sector recorded the highest poor compliance with 66 per cent of inspected farms,” said the report.

Lastly, the report states that Namibians were understudying. The 215 Reports covered 406 non-Namibian employees during the same period.



Justicia Shipena

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