By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK FOLLOWING long-standing wrangles over wages and general working conditions at Ramatex, a meeting scheduled for yesterday between the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Namibian Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) was postponed until further notice. Nafau’s president David Namalenga yesterday confirmed that a meeting expected to look into pressing matters at the factory, such as the recently proposed five cents salary increase per hour, was delayed. The reason for the postponement of the meeting that would have also addressed the alleged ill treatment of the workers was because Nafau had to attend to other equally pressing and urgent matters. Though he could not reveal what the pressing issue was, the unionist said another meeting with the Prime Minister would have to be arranged. This meeting was necessitated by last Tuesday’s meeting between the union and Ramatex, where “there was a major disagreement”, though he did not want to provide details on the discussions. Considering that complaints regarding the factory and its entire operations have been there since the establishment of the factory in 2002, Namalenga believes the situation has reached a point where Namibia as a nation and not the union only must fight for the well being of citizens employed at the Malaysian-run factory. “As the situation stands, things are not good, whatever Ramatex is doing does not necessarily seem to uplift the social wellbeing of people. We are mindful of many things, we must not forget to fight for our people,” stated Namalenga. Meetings have been held and demonstrations have been staged showing the workers’ dissatisfaction with their working conditions, yet little in terms of change has been visible. According to the union, one cannot compromise up to the bones of people. As such Government should seriously get involved in this matter because Ramatex management seems to be taking Namibia for granted. “They think they are ‘eggs’ to be handled with care. We know from their clear intention to go and we do not want them to use our name if they want to go,” charged Namalenga. At a meeting held last Tuesday, Ramatex management offered a wage increase of five cents per hour. The last increase at the factory involved ten cents an hour. The 15 cents salary increase according to the general manager of the factory Boon Keong Ong is still open for discussion, hence another meeting between the factory management and the union is expected to take place. He did not state when. Ong adds that when the factory started, Namibians had to undergo training and until now their productivity apparently still lags far behind.
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