TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Namibia: Giant Textile Firm Agrees to Improve Workers' Conditions

Monday, 07 February 2005

Source: UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

The management at Malaysian textile giant Ramatex has finally agreed to improve the treatment of its 6,000-strong workforce after closed-door discussions at the weekend with the Namibian government and organised labour.

"It transpired that there are some divergent views on issues pertaining to labour conditions at Ramatex Namibia," Andrew Ndishishi, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry said at a joint media briefing on Monday.

Ndishishi said those issues would now be resolved "within the framework of the law and agreements entered into between the relevant labour union and Ramatex".

David Namalenga, president of the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (NAFAU) told IRIN: "We have been negotiating for three years already, but now the ground has been cleared."

Protest marches and complaints about low wages at Ramatex, alleged forced overtime, unfair dismissals and less leave time than Namibian labour law stipulates have repeatedly made headlines.

Last October, over 400 Bangladeshi employees were deported by the government after it was discovered they had no work permits and lived in appalling conditions in a house built for a small family.

"We assure the Namibian government and NAFAU that Ramatex is committed to sound labour relations and will use existing channels to resolve any labour disputes," the company's human resources manager, David Yong, said at the press conference.

The Namibian government has promoted Ramatex as an important part of its export diversification strategy.

The company started operations in 2002 investing US $150 million in a factory on the outskirts of the Namibian capital, Windhoek. Another $20 million of public funds was ploughed in to provide the necessary infrastructure and services for the plant.

The independent Namibian newspaper reported on Monday that the Brussels-based International Textile Garment and Leather Workers' Federation (ITGLWF) last month wrote to President Sam Nujoma and the leading US companies that buy from Ramatex, complaining about the Malaysian firm's treatment of its employees.
[ A copy of this correspondence can be viewed at: ]

ITGLWF secretary-general Neil Kearney called on Ramatex to "abide by international labour standards" in Namibia.

Among the 10 leading US companies that buy apparel from Ramatex are Kmart, Sears and OshKosh.

The Malaysian company exports to the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act which allows African countries to export garments and textiles tariff-free to the US market.

“AGOA Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available on

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 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.