Government urged to assist ex-Ramatex workers

14 Nov 2013 09:40am
WINDHOEK, 14 NOV (NAMPA) – The acting president of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), Connie Pandeni has called on Government to assist former Ramatex workers who are experiencing health problems.
The Malaysian-owned Ramatex garment and textile factories in Windhoek closed-down in 2008, and many people formerly employed by the company are said to have battled with health problems such as skin infections and tuberculosis (TB) since then.
The Ramatex Group of Companies was opened in 2001, and employed about 7 000 workers at its factories in the Otjomuise residential area.
“Many Ramatex workers are still not working, and are faced with health problems. They need to be assisted,” Pandeni said during a courtesy call on Prime Minister Hage Geingob at his office on Wednesday.
She suggested that the union and the Ministry of Health and Social Services sit down and discuss how this problem could be addressed.
Addressing the health issues of Ramatex workers was one of the resolutions taken by the NUNW’s fifth congress held in 2010.
Evidence of violations such as pollution around the factory emerged after the company absconded, and the City of Windhoek commissioned an environmental audit.
Another resolution presented to Geingob was a call for Government to enforce minimum wages for low-income earners in the country.
Pandeni singled out Chinese-owned businesses in the retail industry, which she accused of exploiting workers.
“We do not hate Chinese businesses. We just hate the way they are exploiting our workers. The minimum wage needs to be enforced and implemented,” she stressed.
The unionist also informed the Prime Minister of the NUNW’s stance regarding the Basic Income Grant (BIG), which proposed that every Namibian should get a monthly grant of not less than N.dollars 100.
“We need to find a formula or concept which will help us to address the problem of poverty,” she indicated.
The NUNW quit the BIG coalition in 2010, but rejoined in February 2011.
In his response, Geingob said poverty is not being tolerated in the country.
“I was one of the founding members of BIG, and what I do not understand is why everybody should benefit from BIG - rich or poor. We need to revisit the initiative. The idea is to fight poverty,” he stated.
Geingob said different ways should be sought to fight poverty at different levels.
“We cannot tolerate poverty in this country,” he emphasised, adding that Namibia has abundant resources, although these are not in the hands of the citizens.
A number of other issues were discussed with Geingob, including the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement’s land reform programme.