Construction industry on health and safety
The Construction Industries Federation of Namibia (CIF) and the Metal and Allied Namibia Workers Union (MANWU) discussed a range of issues pertaining to working conditions in construction, at a conference held last month.
Themed ‘Improving labour and operational conditions in the Namibian construction industry’, the conference mainly focused on the transportation of workers, employment conditions at subcontractors, compliance with labour laws and health and safety standards in the industry.
The Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, Honourable Erkki Nghimtina, stated that even though progress has been made in the construction industry, it is still faced with serious occupational and operational challenges and pitfalls. “I am disturbed by the fact that Namibia has a modern Labour Act (Act 11 of 2007) with progressive provisions on safety and health at workplace, yet trade unions and employers have failed to set up safety and health committees as per the law requirements,” he said.
He directed that MANWU and CIF must act as obliged by the Labour Act to establish Safety and Health Committees and elect safety and health representatives, as a matter of urgency, in terms of section 43 and act in conformity with section 44. “It has been a habit in our country for social partners to complain that the government does not do its work whenever an accident happens, but the complainants fail to establish safety and health representatives at their workplaces as they are obliged to do by the Labour Act,” he reiterated.
He added that the theme of the conference is relevant because what is needed now is practical implementation and the improvement of labour and operational conditions in the construction industry. “Having given you clear directives I want to invite all members of the construction fraternity to join the ministry in the call for ‘Zero Accident’ and ‘Better Conditions’, he concluded.
During the conference members offered a range of solutions to the issues at. It was clear that a lot of work has to be done to keep employees safe and healthy in the industry. It was agreed by all that a construction council was needed to implement an integrated strategy for the reconstruction, growth and development of the construction industry and to regulate the activities in the industry.
Otto Nahamba, the President of MANWU said he is pleased with the outcome of the conference and the solutions suggested by the representatives of government, business and labour.