Labour hire case postponed to September

The application of Africa Labour Services (ALS) challenging the amendment of the Labour Act that prohibits the hiring out and employing of casual workers in Namibia was by agreement between the two parties postponed in the Windhoek High Court to September 27 for arguments.

The Minister of Labour and Social Services and the Namibian Government are the respondents in the matter.

Judge Harald Geier congratulated the parties for having approached the matter in a most pragmatic way.

The ALS lodged an urgent application for a Court interdict to prohibit the respondents from implementing or in any manner giving effect to the provisions of Section 128 of the Labour Act of 2007 pending the adjudication of its constitutionality. However, the issue of urgency fell out and the parties are now only going to argue on the merits of the application.

According to the heads of argument of the applicants, the provisions of section 128 demands that the user enterprises, among others, to offer labour hire employees the same benefits as their own employees. This allegedly undermines labour hire employers agreements with their own employees with regard to, for example, pension contributions, medical contributions and payment to unions.

Furthermore the provisions of Section 128 stipulates that labour hire employees must be remunerated the same as the existing employees of the user enterprises resulting in them using temporary employees of their own as then they appoint on probation and make a distinction based on inexperience and no record of loyalty.

The Minister of Labour and the Government filed an answering sworn statement in which they opposed the relief sought and argued the ALS does not have the locus standi to challenge Section 128. They argued that the balance of convenience does not favour the granting of an interim interdict.

The prohibition of the labour hire companies led to job losses since August 1, when new Act came into effect. At least 7 000 or more people lost their jobs and there is tension among employee representative organizations, trade unions and the Government.

Judge Geier is on the bench together with Judge Shafimana Ueitele.

Advocate Theo Frank and Esi Schimming-Chase appear for the Africa Labour Services while attorney Nixon Marcus appears for the defendants on behalf of the Government Attorneys.

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