THE already inflated official unemployment rate in Namibia is just the tip of the iceberg, with about 4 455 workers retrenched across various sectors over the past four months in the country since the start of the State of Emergency declared on 16 March 2020 on account of the coronavirus.
The current retrenchment figure has, however, somersaulted over the past week, with retailer giant in Namibia, Pick n Pay Namibia, announcing on Thursday, 18 June, that the company will retrench 500 workers from its retailer outlets situated in 22 towns across Namibia.
This is according to the Labour Commissioner Henri Kassen, who in an interview stated that 4 455 employees were retrenched by 289 companies from 27 March 2020 to 12 June 2020.
Commissioner Kassen added that 108 unfair dismissal cases were registered during the said period.
“Retrenchments are increasing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More industry worker support schemes are needed, such as that of Social Security Commission (SCC),” Kassen stated.
He further advised that a national unemployment insurance fund be introduced.
Kassen also suggested that employers and trade unions should consider starting retrenchment relief funds.
The ugly head of retrenchment has been rearing its face across various sectors in the country, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 further weakening the Namibian economy, which experienced negative growth for four consecutive economic quarters from 2016-2019.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), in its review of the economy for the first economic quarter (Q1/20), cautioned that recent pronouncements by local and international authorities that 2020 will see the resumption of modest growth, have now been overtaken by events.
“The coronavirus pandemic will, in the short to medium-term at least, severely affect economic performance and put significant strain on Namibia’s public finances, which were already in poor shape. Efforts to get the economy through the immediate crisis will take precedence over efforts at reform. Namibia went into the global financial crisis in a relatively strong position from a fiscal and monetary point of view. This time it’s very different,” the IPPR stated.