Conciliation avenue of choice

More than 1 000 cases of disputes were received by the labour ministry in the first quarter of this financial year.

19 August 2019 | Ministries

The majority of Namibians prefer solving labour disputes through conciliation as opposed to arbitration.

This is evident by the fact that 76% of the labour cases referred and resolved during the first quarter of this year were resolved through conciliation, compared to the 24% which were arbitrated.

This is according a report released last week by the labour ministry presenting different activities undertaken by the ministry during the first quarter of the 2019/20 financial year.

According to the report, altogether 1 004 referrals of labour dispute cases were received during the reporting period of which 775 cases were processed, while 229 were rejected and/or referred back for remedial actions.

A total number of 1 207 cases were handled during the period under review, and 686 cases (57%) were resolved successfully.

“This includes cases that were carried over from the previous quarter. Of these cases, 518 (76%) were resolved through conciliation while 168 (24%) were resolved through arbitration. About 523 (43%) cases were pending during the reporting period. Conciliation remains the preferred method of resolving disputes as opposed to arbitration,” says the report.

A number of 523 cases were recorded as pending during the reporting period due to various reasons ranging from on-going negotiations between the parties, postponements, or cases that are scheduled to be heard for the first time.

This figure also includes cases which have been arbitrated (evidence already adduced), but the awards were not yet issued, the ministry said.

There have been a relative number of awards that were delivered late to the parties during the period under review.

“Section 86 of the Labour Act requires that arbitration awards must be issued within 30 days from the date of conclusion of proceedings. This legal duty of arbitrators needs to be tightly managed and enforced to ensure the issuance of the awards timeously,” says the report.

The report adds that cases of late issuance of awards ought to be limited to those circumstances beyond the arbitrator's control, such as when an arbitrator gets sick, has a death in the family, or is on statutory leave.

Furthermore a total number of 16 appeals and four reviews were lodged with the Labour Court and the outcomes were still pending during this period.

One legal strike by Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (Manwu) at Furnmat and HomeCorp, and three peaceful demonstrations by the National Institution of Pathology (NIP), National Theatre of Namibia (NTN) and Namibia Standard Institution (NSI) were also observed during the period under review.

ELLANIE SMIT

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