IUF logo; clicking here returns you to the home page.
Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

Namibian High Court Upholds Ban on Labour Hire Agencies

Posted to the IUF website 04-Dec-2008

Share this article.

Namibia's High Court on December 1 upheld the ban on labour hire agencies set out in the new Labour Act, rejecting a challenge by the country's biggest labour hire agency Africa Personnnel Services (APS).

APS challenged the constitutionality of the clause that "no person may, for reward, employ any person with a view to making that person available to a third party to perform work for the third party". Company lawyers argued that the law violated its "fundamental" right to "practise any profession, carry on any occupation, trade or business".

The presiding judge recalled, in his written judgement, that constitutional guarantees do not automatically apply to all business activities, stating: "A person who is in the business of, for instance, stock theft, the keeping of a brothel, trafficking in women or children, or slavery cannot be heard to claim a right under the Constitution on the basis that the business or trade yielded a profit or income."

"Under Namibian law," stated the judge, "there is no room for a third party in the relationship between an employer and employee. "It is my view that this third-party interposition creates an unacceptable situation that has no legal basis in our law on contract of employment. In my opinion, (labour hire) is the letting or hiring of persons as if they were chattels."

The ruling was enthusiastically greeted by trade unionists who filled the courthouse and demonstrators chanting outside. Trade unions including IUF affiliates and national centers in many countries are working to strengthen legal bans (e.g. in Russia, where temp agencies are still illegal but the labour hire industry is lobbying hard) and administrative regulations restricting the expansion of temporary agency work. APS immediately appealed.