Mayday witness to progress in advancing workers’ rights – Geingob
By Clifton Movirongo.
In his message on the occasion of the 2023 International Workers’ Day, the President, HE Dr Hage Geingob on Monday said Namibia has made good progress in advancing workers’ rights, consistent with the letter and spirit of the Namibian Constitution.
The president made these observation against the 30-year history of the relationship between the government, the trade unions, and the private sector.
“I urge all stakeholders to deliver on their mandate of upholding and protecting workers’ rights and interests by promoting sound labour relations and fair employment practices,” he said.
President Geingob said that under the Namibian government processes, systems, and institutions, employers should promote conducive working environments and fair benefits for workers.
“In the same vein, stakeholders should engage in good faith in collective bargaining to mitigate the impact of the economic downturn on workers and must at all times resolve labour disputes in a spirit that advances the interests of Namibia,” he added.
In addition, he noted that through the labour ministry, the government would continue to play its part by paying “special” attention to occupational diseases, hazards, hygiene at the workplace, and life-threatening health issues that may affect the quality and conditions of Namibian workers.
International Labour Day, popularly known as International Workers’ Day or May Day is observed on 1 May every year. This year, International Workers Day was observed under the theme, “Workers United in ensuring productivity for National Economic Growth and Guarding against Unfair Labour Practices in the World of Work.”
“As the world is rapidly changing, and with it the future of work, through the intensification of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), Robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Artificial Intelligence, more demands are placed on Namibian workers to retool and reskill.”
He said by establishing the 4IR Task Force in 2021, which he indicated completed its work by making recommendations to prepare Namibia for 4IR, he urged the private sector and trade unions to accompany the government in preparing workers for the future of work.
“The government remains conscious that unemployment disproportionately affects the youth and the unskilled. The government cannot do it alone. Yes, the government will continue to create a conducive environment for job creation. But to succeed in that endeavour, the private sector must be a major driving force in reducing unemployment, which is an important pillar in the fight against poverty.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, said 1 May is a day to honour the struggles and gains made by workers and the labour movement.
She said, “Without a doubt, the workers are the backbone of service delivery in any society. They set out to serve and save society at the expense of their own home comforts. They leave their homes and even countries to do the work for the benefit of people. In many instances, the work they do causes physical exhaustion and discomfort.
She added that the government remains committed to the protection of the rights of workers, the improvement of their welfare conditions, and to the maintenance of sound labour relations through continuous workers’ engagement.
According to the prime minister, employee wellness also remains one of the priorities of the government as a means to improve working conditions in the public sector.