Labour, industrial relations and employment creation minister Erkki Nghimtina says when the government, employers and workers come together to seek consensus on work-related matters, they must always be guided by the requirements of social justice and decent work.
He said this when he officially opened a two-day national dialogue on the relevance of workers' and employers' organisations held near Windhoek on Thursday and Friday. Nghimtina said the dialogue, titled “National Dialogue in Namibia on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Future of Work Centenary Initiative”, relates to the future of social justice and inclusive development.
“Government, employers and workers' representatives through the labour ministry have walked a long way together, and have overcome some difficult challenges. Therefore, I have no doubt that you will approach this meeting with the understanding that Namibia is busy building her economy founded on an inclusive agenda for all,” he noted. Nghimtina further highlighted that turbulence in the labour market in modern times, as well as economic, social and political considerations make social justice a noticeable agenda for today.
“Perceptions of unfairness are among the most powerful causes of instability in many societies, including where peace is threatened, or has already been undermined,” he said. He added that the considerations which moved the founders of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to make social justice its ultimate goal whose everyday business is the world of work, established a nexus and responsibility that remain unchanged nearly 100 years later. The meeting, according to Nghimtina, had a key responsibility to have fruitful discussions, and to look at the relevance of trade unions and employers' organisations today and beyond 2019, which marks 100 years of the ILO's existence.
“It is accepted that strong, democratic, independent organisations interacting in conditions of mutual trust and respect are the preconditions for credible social dialogue. The question then is, 'What part will the future world of work accord to such organisations, and how will they contribute to shape that future”” he asked rhetorically. Speaking at the same occasion, president of the Trade Union Congress of Namibia Paulus Hango, who spoke on behalf of employees, said many workers in Namibia are poor as they do not have decent jobs.
“Trade unions are demanding decent work for all workers in the formal and informal sectors of the economy,” said Hango. Tim Parkhouse of the Namibian Employers Federation spoke on behalf of the employers.