By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek An industrial action that started on Friday afternoon at Ramatex ended on Saturday evening after the Namibian Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) and the Ramatex management reached an agreement. Although the demands of the workers were not entirely met, the offer from the company was enough to bring the industrial action to a halt. Ramatex finally offered an increase of N$1,10 per hour across the board, compared to the 60 cents it was offering when the strike started. The workers and Nafau were demanding an average increase of N$3 to N$4 per hour. However, Nafau President Abel Kazondunge said they were at least happy with the new offer. Kazondunge said apart from the N$1,10 increase, the company also agreed to provide medical aid to the workers. He said investigations to find the appropriate medial aid for the 3 000 workers have been put in motion and it has been agreed that Ramatex will contribute 70% to the fund while the employee will contribute 30%. The union president added that the company agreed to provide a pension of 5% for all its employees as well as N$100 per month for transport. The workers at Ramatex who did not have a single fringe benefit before will also be provided with a N$150 per month housing allowance. Kazondunge said the new benefits, which are effective from 1 October, would definitely contribute to an improvement in the working conditions of the workers. He said it should be very clear to any investor coming to Namibia that there is a Labour Act in place which must be respected. “The workers’ unions in Namibia will not support cheap labour as Ramatex wants and if they think they can do it here, they are wrong.” Kazondunge questioned Ramatex’s tactics which he described as a “delay tactics approach”. He noted that there was no need for Ramatex to push the negotiations to the limit. The workers at Ramatex went on strike on Friday afternoon after Nafau declared a dispute against Ramatex. All dispute resolution mechanisms were followed and exhausted without producing any results. Hundreds of workers could be seen at the company’s gate carrying placards in a peaceful protest. The NUNW declared on Friday that it would call for a national strike if the Ramatex strike went ahead as planned. At a press conference on Friday, the Secretary General of the NUNW Evilastus Kaaronda said the umbrella body would start mobilizing all the NUNW branches to show solidarity with the Ramatex workers. The outcome of a ballot vote at Ramatex last week prompted the workers to go on strike. The voting results indicated that out of the 2 687 workers at Ramatex, 2 457 voted in favour of a strike while only 241 were against industrial action. Kazondunge said the outcome had proved that the majority of the workers are saying enough is enough and that they cannot take it any longer.
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