TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Namibia: NAFAU Seeks Govt Help to Resolve Labour Issues At Ramatex Factory

Thursday, 27 January 2005

Source: The Namibian (Windhoek)

The Namibian Food and Allied Workers' Union (Nafau) has requested Government to facilitate a meeting with Malaysian textile factory, Ramatex, to iron out longstanding labour issues.

Nafau General Secretary Kiros Sakarias said yesterday that it was "high time" the issues were raised at a common forum.

He claimed the factory continued to be in breach of the country's labour law as well as agreements entered into with the factory.

"It is not fair [for us] to allow the situation to go on unabated and then claim to represent the workers," Sakarias said.

The union claims that its more than 6 000 members at the factory are regularly subjected to unfair labour practices and alleges that conditions of employment are not up to standard.

Sakarias said the meeting, to include Trade and Industry and Labour officials, could be held before the end of this week.

Since starting business in Namibia more than three years ago, Ramatex has regularly found itself in the local and international spotlight over its employment practices.

They stand accused of being in contravention of the country's labour laws and both the Namibian and Asian workforce have, in the past, resorted to industrial action.

Government has previously defended the factory, saying Namibians were struggling to cope with a difference in approach to the work ethic.

Sakarias said the union's concerns extended beyond basic labour conditions to the social aspects of workers' employment and said they were also seeking an assurance that no job losses were on the cards for workers.

Speculation has been swirling among workers since the beginning of the year that the factory planned to downscale its operations, following the closure of one division within the factory.

But the union said all the workers who had previously worked in this section, had been redeployed to other sections.

The factory head Khayhiang Lim and a senior manager BK Ong were said to be out of the country yesterday.

Other managers said they were not authorised to answer queries in their absence.

With the African Growth and Opportunities Act (Agoa) now extended from 2008 to 2015, Ramatex is expected to enjoy increased export benefits for its products to the United States - stemming immediate fears that the factory would leave Namibia these benefits had been exhausted.

The American law gives the opportunity to some of the world's poorest nations to export their products duty free.



“AGOA Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available on AGOA.info


Click here to view a sector profile of Namibia’s bilateral trade with the United States, disaggregated by total exports and imports, AGOA exports and GSP exports.


Other regularly updated trade statistics on AGOA.info include: (click each link to view)

  • AGOA-beneficiary Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Aggregates

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.