By Kuvee Kangueehi Gobabis The Secretary General of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) Evilastus Kaaronda has called on the government to review its EPZ policy. Addressing delegates at the Namibian Food and Allied Workers Union (NAFAU)’s 8th National Congress in Gobabis, Kaaronda said the government needs to undertake a cost benefit analysis of this policy because it appears that Namibian workers and the country are not benefiting from it. Kaaronda highlighted the Ramatex Textile Company as a clear case in point. “Our government has given so much to this company but what benefit did we reap from this investment which enjoys an EPZ status?” The secretary general also noted that the workers are disappointed because government is not acting and refuses to address some of these problems. “The government knows about these problems because we inform them and give them scientific evidence but they still refuse to look again.” He said the decision by the government not to act makes people wonder . He added that some government institutions such as Transnamib continue to abuse workers under the nose of government without it doing anything. The secretary general also questioned the role of the Central Governance Agency (CGA). “A lot of resources are being pumped into this … but we do not see any work being done.” At the same occasion, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Alpheus !Naruseb, who officially opened the congress, said trade unions today, with NAFAU being no exception, face numerous challenges and as such they need to be united and have a committed trade union leadership to tackle and overcome the challenges. He said trade unions are key institutions in the democratic society for the protection of the rights and interest of workers in relation to their employers. “In fulfilling this function, the trade unions contribute to the improvement of wages and working conditions not only for their own members but also for the nation’s workers generally.” He added that trade unions also play a pivotal role in the formation and implementation of national labour policy as social partners in such tripartite structures such as the Labour Advisory Council, the Social Security Commission and the Employment Equity Commission. “They also need to play a greater role in advising on the adoption of economic policies and programmes for national economic development that can promote the objectives of full employment and decent work for all.” The minister urged members of NAFAU to approach the ministry if they need any training regarding the Labour Bill, which is set to be tabled in Parliament. “The new law is set to bring a new system to prevent and resolve labour disputes through conciliation and arbitration.” Also during the opening ceremony, NAFAU president David Namalenga said that since the last congress Nafau has grown and is now all over the country. “We have members from Opuwo, Epupa, Oshikango, Okangwati, Oranjemund, Rosh Pinah, Impalila, Kasika Island and lodges in the Hardap Region and surrounding areas also present at the congress.” The NAFAU president said that before Kiros Sakarias took over as acting general secretary from 1977, the organisation was characterised by a lot of problems and financial difficulties. “The salary of the staff could not even be increased for about five years. However, after Sakarias took over, significant improvements were made which are visible in many aspects and it is just fair to give credit when and where it is due.” The congress was due to elect a new leadership last night.
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