Health and safety committees in workplaces urgently needed

15 Jun 2016 19:10pm
WINDHOEK, 15 JUN (NAMPA) - Although Namibia has a modern Labour Act with progressive provisions on health and safety in the workplace, trade unions and employers have failed to establish health and safety committees as required by the law.
This was said by the Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation Erkki Nghimtina in a speech read on his behalf at the official opening of a two-day workshop by the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (MANWU) and the Construction Industries Federation (CIF) of Namibia in the capital on Wednesday.
“It has become a habit in our country for social partners to complain that the government, this ministry in particular, does not do its work whenever an accident happens, he said, adding that in many cases, complainants have however failed to install health and safety representatives in the workplace as they are obliged to do by the Labour Act.
These representatives and committees should identify and notify potential areas of risk and hazards in the workplace, he said, noting that they are not employees of the State but employees and managers.
Nghimtina therefore directed that MANWU and CIF must adhere to the Labour Act and establish such committees and elect health and safety representatives as a matter of urgency.
He also directed inspectors to include in their routine inspections, verification of the existence of functional health and safety committees or representatives in workplaces and report back to the union.
The Labour Minister further called on MANWU and CIF as the current lawful collective bargaining agents for employers and employees in the construction industry to work out strict conditions of employment for this very important sector, which is at the same time one of the sectors that benefits heavily from the State development budget, hence it must be exemplary in its quest for decent work and respect of workers' rights in the workplace.
The workshop is being held under the theme ‘Improving labour and operational conditions in the Namibian construction industry.’