Workers Urged to Unite

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By William J. Mbangula Oshakati The president of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) Risto Kapenda has urged workers to remain united. “Unions are all about unity, it is all about togetherness. Unity starts from within yourself. Clean up your most inner self and embrace others. When unions are infested with destructive notions of rumour mongering, backstabbing, deceit and vilifications, the real victims shall be those who are the initiators. As the saying goes, what goes around comes around. Unity, patriotism and national interests are much bigger than our individual names and personal egos.” Kapenda was speaking at the opening of the Regional Conference of the NUNW on Saturday, March 11. The conference was called to establish new structures of the NUNW in the regions through elections, to discuss and make recommendations to the congress. Amongst the issues discussed were job security, under-employment and unemployment, lack of basic services for the workers and their families, violations of the labour rights at the workplaces, low wages and divisive politics of disunity by some union leaders and politicians. The conference was attended by some senior union officials from Windhoek, including the Acting Secretary General of the NUNW Evilastus Kaaronda, who was one of the main speakers. Other delegates came from the Oshikoto, Oshana, Omu-sati, Ohangwena and the Kune-ne regions. After the conference in Oshakati, similar gatherings will be held for the northeast and eastern regions. The western region already elected its own leadership recently. According to Kapenda, the purpose of the conference was to conclude the decisions and resolutions of the previous congress. Structures need to be put in place ahead of the congress scheduled for May this year. He said all affiliated unions of the NUNW were represented at the conference. These are NAPWU, MUN, NDAWU, NAFINU, NANTU, NATAU, NAFAU and NFWU. “Workers should be cautious and avoid divisive politics based on tribalism, regionalism, dirty politics and ethnicity. They should avoid creating animosity among themselves because people who are talking politics are somewhere else making a mockery and fools of ourselves,” Kapenda warned. He added that whoever emerges from the conference as an elected leader should strive to build bridges between workers, as well as local, regional and central structures of the government. “We are not considering the public and private sectors as our adversaries but we look at them as social partners for a better Namibia, which will be good for the future generations.” On productivity of workers, Kapenda reminded them that they have an obligation to serve the people with dedication, be they employed in the private or the public sector. They will have to do their part to the best of their ability as labourers, handymen, artisans, teachers, nurses, engineers and other providers of service. In a speech delivered on his behalf, the Governor of Oshana region Clemens Kashuupulwa deplored the fact that the urban centres in Oshana are currently overcrowded because of migration by unemployed school dropouts. His speech was delivered by the Councillor for Oshakati East Lotto Kuushomwa. “Many youths come to the towns with expectations to get employment but only find themselves roaming the streets and turning to crime, alcohol and drug abuse. Employment opportunities in our region are very scarce due to the fact that there are no investments,” Kashuupulwa said. “Whereas the employees expect to be paid a living wage, the employers equally expect their business operations to be managed properly. There should be no wastages of either time or material. There should be a yield of profit that could be ploughed back into the company for it to be sustainable as well as to enable it to expand.” To ensure sound labour relations, unnecessary strikes have to be avoided at all cost and shop stewards at workplaces must help solve conflicts amicably, said the governor. Concerning the public servants, he said they need to conduct themselves in accordance with the Public Service Charter in order to render full service to the public. On labour relations in the Oshana region, the governor pointed out that no explosive situation has been experienced so far. However, he added that it was worth noting that there are still some complaints from sectors of the workforce who are either being maltreated, paid meagre wages and working long hours without breaks. Such practices are totally inhuman and unacceptable in an independent Namibia, according to the governor. “I would like therefore to make a special appeal to the union federation and its affiliates to look into this matter as a matter of urgency and to bring about a viable solution. I shall also feel indebted if I fail to thank those employers who adhere to the Namibian constitution and the Labour Act. Credit should be given where it is due.”

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