Minister Salutes the Working Class

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By Engel Nawatiseb ONYAANYA The use of child labour would not be allowed under laws that seek to improve conditions at the workplace. This was said by the country’s Minister of Justice and Attorney-General Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana when she addressed workers during a May Day rally at Onalukula in the Onyaanya constituency on Monday. “No longer do we have a Government that sees … workers as not deserving of the same rights as others. Workers’ working conditions have also improved in health and safety in the workplace and in wages. The basic amenities of a dignified life that were denied to the majority of Namibians are now reaching our people, whether it be clean water, electricity, health care, access to decent education or housing.” She encouraged workers and Government to collectively face the challenges of the future with confidence by working together. Iivula-Ithana stressed that workers should dispel the idea that change can come from Government alone while the majority of the population wait passively for delivery. “As we are our own liberators, so too must we change our own lives for the better and however good our new laws may be on paper, they must be implemented and enforced before they bring benefits to workers and others. However good the policies of the Government are, nothing will come of them without the active participation of each and every one of us,” she stated. According to her, unions have worked hand in hand with communities and local government to develop the areas in which they live, building community forums as part of the anti-crime campaigns and to help bring an end to violence against women and children. The minister stated that the country was counting on organized workers to strengthen the offensive against crime and corruption in the workplace, including the criminal justice system and civil service. She said that although Government has turned the local economy from years of stagnation to sustained growth, not enough jobs were created, leaving one of the most urgent and critical challenges facing the country to be employment creation. She noted that workers and trade unions are at the economic heart of the country. “It is you who mine the minerals and produce the exports that fuel our growth, putting food on our tables and building the facilities that deliver the services our people need. With employers and Government, you can help our country to meet the challenges of reshaping the economy to make us a force to be reckoned with in the world.” Iivula-Ithana further pointed out that without workers’ organized participation, Govern-ment’s efforts to become more productive and competitive would not succeed. Pointing to the relationship between the ruling party and the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), the minister stressed that the alliance between SWAPO and NUNW has been the driving force on the path to freedom and a just society and as long as the bond remains strong and united, it would ensure that the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable would come first. “The foundation for a better life has been laid and the building has begun. I want to thank and salute our workers that as producers of wealth they have given us the means to do what could be done to improve the lives of our people who have been impoverished by a system that consciously treated thousands of Namibians as surplus people.” She added that the workers of Namibia have helped to generate resources so that Government could end the humiliation according to which the majority of citizens were defined only as cheap labour and consumers. “The workers of this country participated in the liberation struggle as freedom fighters and we are therefore proud of the great advances we have made within the last 16 years of independence with the direct involvement of the workers and trade unions in many areas. We must measure the progress we are making to create a human and caring society by the advances we achieve to improve the lives of the working people in both rural and urban areas,” she stated. The Onyaanya constituency councillor, Henock Kankoshi encouraged village workers to continue to produce their own food and become self-sustaining while Government was concentrating on capital projects and other programmes that would benefit rural communities.

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