18 Sep 2013 09:10
OTJIWARONGO, 18 SEP (NAMPA) Over 50 members of the Trade Union Congress of Namibia (Tucna) staged a peaceful demonstration here on Wednesday against the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare for allegedly excluding the union from an important meeting.
The demonstrators also expressed disappointment in the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Doreen Sioka, for allegedly refusing to receive their petition in person.
Sioka is attending a two-day consultative tripartite meeting here, and the petition was received by a Chief Liaison Officer in the Labour Ministry, Paulus Ashipala.
Similar demonstrations were planned for Walvis Bay and Lüderitz.
In the petition read out loud by a Tucna executive committee member, Olsen Kahiriri, the union said it held the demonstration to express concern about a decision by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to exclude it from a crucial labour relations tripartite consultative meeting underway in Otjiwarongo.
The meeting started on Wednesday, and ends on Thursday.
The tripartite consultative meeting involves three parties - trade unions representing employees, irrespective of their ideologies; Government; and employers.
Kahiriri explained that the meeting is vital as matters of unfair dismissals and the unfair payment of workers, amongst other issues, are being discussed.
According to the union, the exclusion of Tucna from the meeting is a deliberate ploy by Sioka to revert to the past practices of excluding independent trade unions not affiliated to some political parties in the country.
It stated that it is not fair at all for a significant consultative meeting like that one to be attended only by a selected few political party-affiliated trade unions, like the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), which is affiliated to the ruling Swapo-Party of Namibia.
Kahiriri said the concerns of workers affiliated to Tucna would not fully be discussed in this meeting here since their trade union is not present.
We know that if Tucna is invited to attend the meeting, it will raise issues of corruption, issues of unemployment, the misuse and disappearance of workers pension funds and the transformation of tripartite arrangements in the country, which the NUNW will never raise, he charged.
Some of the placards carried by the demonstrating workers read: Workers rights cannot be compromised by a unions affiliation; We need better salaries and social benefits like medical aid and pension, we are also people.
Meanwhile, Ashipala told Nampa on enquiry that the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare invited a representative from Tucna to attend this two-day consultative tripartite meeting in Otjiwarongo.
He explained that Tucna is a member of the national Labour Advisory Council (LAC), and that their representative also attends all crucial consultative tripartite meetings.
Tucna Secretary-General Mahongora Kavihuha and other trade union leaders were also present during the march.
Tucna is a registered trade union with over 70 000 members.
It was founded in May 2002 in Windhoek after a merger between the Namibia Federation of Trade Unions (Naftu) and the Namibia Peoples Movement (NPSM).
It is headed by Paulus Hango as president.