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Dispute resolution delaying labour cases - Nujoma

2021-11-23  Maihapa Ndjavera

Dispute resolution delaying labour cases - Nujoma
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Delays during the dispute resolution process is one of the biggest challenges confronting the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system when it comes to unresolved disputes between employers and employees. This is according to labour minister Utoni Nujoma who when speaking during a stakeholder’s engagement yesterday said his office has undertaken ambitious measures to eliminate these delays. 

“These delays affect both employees and employers. Unresolved workplace problems that are allowed to fester will affect not only the well-being of a complainant seeking justice, but also workplace relations, company finances and productivity,” explained Nujoma.

According to the labour minister, the participation of private legal practitioners and consultants in conciliation and arbitration proceedings is a major reason for delays: “While the arbitration process is supposed to be straight forward, speedy and cost-effective, the increasing involvement of legal practitioners and consultants has resulted in protracted technical point-taking, recurrent requests for litigation, misunderstanding by complainants and they must expend considerable representation in order to achieve justice before the arbitration

Nujoma further pointed out that in order to tackle the issue at hand, they consider recruitment of suitably qualified arbitrators, improved scheduling and hearing procedures, and regular in-house training for arbitrators and improved supervision. 

“We are also striving to implement the policy to the effect that postponements of arbitration hearings will be strictly limited. In addition, a Code of Ethics for arbitrators was introduced in 2020. 

This will enable the labour commissioner and the minister to act more effectively when arbitrators are not living up to the expectations of the ADR system and the law,” he explained.

Nujoma further said Covid -19 presented major challenges to the work of the labour commissioner’s office. Since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, successive lockdowns made it practically impossible for the office to hold face-to-face meetings. 

According to the labour minister, these factors contributed to delays in the resolution of labour disputes and on top of this the backlog of cases, which piled up as a result of the lockdowns, is yet to be cleared. 

He further noted that the pandemic also resulted in the retrenchment of many employees and this invariably contributed to an increase in labour disputes. 

He said the intake of new cases per week has steadily increased to nearly double pre-Covid-19 levels.

2021-11-23  Maihapa Ndjavera

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