Junior managers face 'boardroom abuse'

11 August 2020 | Labour

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK



Vulnerable junior employees are secretly subjected to violence, abuse and harassment by powerful bosses in the country's boardrooms, labour ministry executive director Bro-Matthew Shinguadja has said.

He made these remarks in a statement announcing government's intention to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention on violence and harassment in the workplace.

According to him, until now, Namibia has had no legislation to deal with violence and harassment in the workplace, which has been treated as a criminal offence.

“We never dealt with violence in the workplace, people had to go to the police and lay charges. For example, when you are in a boardroom, your senior managers harass you, but because it took place there, no one will know about it. You have heard people saying they were unfairly dismissed and because people are juniors, they are forced to resign,” he said.

The convention will be tabled in the National Assembly next month and is expected to fill this legislative vacuum.



Scary picture

According to Shinguadja, Namibia needs to ratify this instrument, given the number of harassment and violence incidents reported to the ministry.

“These and other unreported and unrecorded incidents are facts that project a scary picture that if nothing is done from a labour and employment perspective, soon many workplaces will become places of brutality, assault, verbal, physical and emotional abuse.

“This includes violence and harassment in the boardrooms,” he said. Job Muniaro, a long-time lobbyist for legislative intervention and the secretary-general of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), said violence and harassment are serious and far-reaching, and even affect people's family lives.

He added that domestic workers are most affected and are often the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of their employers.



Mental health link

“If people are stressed, then they will go home stressed and their children will have to face that. When there is violence at the workplace, then there can be no productivity,” he said. He added that this leads to increasing reports of depression and mental health challenges in the workplace.

“We must really commend this tri-partite intervention. We are really happy and looking forward to the implementation of this policy. I hope this trickles down into company policies for long-lasting and effective solutions.

“This does not protect only workers, but the employer as well, [as] you also find extremely stressed workers who are threatening their employers,” Muniaro said.

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