More than 1 600 layoffs in five months

29 October 2018 | Labour

Between October 2017 and March 2018, 1 616 employees were retrenched locally, the minister of labour, industrialisation and employment creation, Erkki Nghimtina, has revealed.

The layoffs were because of company closures, expired contracts and restructuring exercises, Nghimtina said in the National Assembly last week.

He was responding to questions by Popular Democratic Movement member of parliament Jennifer Van den Heever.

Van den Heever had queried issues around unfair retrenchments and asked if government had mechanisms in place to protect employees.

“To what extent has your ministry made sure that procedures are followed when employees are retrenched?” she asked.

Nghimtina said he viewed retrenchment as a last resort when all other means to preserve jobs had been exhausted.

He added that the Labour Act provides some form of protection to employees identified for retrenchment.

The employer must give at least 30 days' notice of intended retrenchment to a recognised trade union or workplace union representative and the employee.

The notice must specify the reasons for dismissal, the number and category of affected employees and the date of dismissal, the minister explained.

The employer must also negotiate in good faith with the trade union to explore various possibilities, as opposed to just retrenching employees.

These include alternatives to dismissal; looking at the criteria for selecting employees for dismissal; how to minimise the dismissals; the dismissal conditions and how to avert adverse effects of the dismissal.

Statistics provided by the minister show that from 1 October 2017 to December of the same year, 781 employees were retrenched. Of these, 280 people lost their jobs when 38 companies closed.

Sixty-seven were laid off when their work contracts ended, while 59 were let go as a result of company takeovers.

An additional 196 were retrenched for economic reasons, while 105 lost their jobs due to restructuring.

Also, during the period in question, 74 employees lost their jobs due to technological changes and other reasons.

As for the period between 1 January to March 2018, 835 employees were laid off by 87 companies.

During the six months, the ministry handled 1 151 labour disputes, of which 899 were successfully conciliated without leading to a strike.

For now, Nghimtina and his ministry have pinned their hopes on the recovery of the economy.

“Let us hope the economy will recover so the employers can start and increase recruiting or recall their employees, by so doing contributing to the reduction of high unemployment or retrenchment in the country,” he said.

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