Retrenchments up to 8 000 as pandemic bites

By Hilary Mare

RETRENCHMENTS in the country have soured with statistics obtained from the labour ministry showing that for the first half of the year, employers have laid-off at least 7 700 employees.

Of these the greater number of job losses has been recorded post Namibia’s first Covid-19 lockdown on March 27.

During this period the hospitality sector has been most affected shedding 2 424 jobs followed by mining which lost at least 1 184 jobs. Retail, transport, construction and manufacturing sector have also shed at least 200 jobs each.

For the Khomas region retrenchments between April and June have scaled up to 3 000 while Covid-19 ravaged Erongo region has lost 1 300 jobs.

Executive Director in the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation,hsaid that the country has witnessed massive collective termination of employment during April to June whereby a total number of 5748 employees were retrenched by 388 employers.

Of these employees, 1816 were retrenched due to Covid-19 related reasons while 3932 were retrenched due to other reasons.

“Khomas region recorded a higher number of retrenched employees (2 838) followed by Erongo region with 1 309 while Omaheke and Omusati regions recorded the least of three and five respectively.
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Among all the regions, only Kavango-West was spared from retrenchment during this quarter.

“In addition, the ministry had to deal with 405 unfair dismissals, of which 13 were Covid-19 related. It is important to highlight that the Covid-19 State of Emergency resulted in some serious operational challenges whereby the Ministry recorded a backlog of about 588 cases throughout the country,” he said.

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During this quarter, 2035 jobseekers were added/registered into the employment database i.
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e. Namibia Integrated Employment Information System (NIEIS). The labour ministry received 1446 vacancy notifications for referral purposes and 2936 jobseekers were referred for possible employment placements.

“It is a common knowledge that Namibia is faced by a high rate of unemployment, which is mostly affecting women. During this quarter, statistics show that the 25-29 age category recorded a higher number of jobseekers (572), followed by 30-34 years (453) and 35-39 with 305 jobseekers registered. In order to mitigate high unemployment rate, the Ministry has started the process of reviewing the National Employment Policy, which is anticipated to yield positive outcomes,” noted Shinguadja.

He went on to say that as a member state of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Namibia is expected to be on par with global labour standards. As a result, a submission was made to Cabinet for the minister to table the ratifications of two conventions, namely; domestic workers convention, 2011 (No. 189) and violence and harassment convention, 2019 (No. 190).

“In addition, progress has been made in establishing the National Minimum Wage that will be enforced across all sectors.

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Once implemented, it is expected to curb unfair remuneration rates especially in sectors where there are currently no minimum wages by agreement or in terms of wage orders.”

Four hundred and six non-Namibian employees covered by the 215 reports were being understudied by Namibians during the reporting period. The understudy serves the purpose of skills transfer from the expatriates to the locals. This is done in order to ensure less non-Namibians being employed as more Namibians are being capacitated in areas where skills are scarce.