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Namibia: Ramatex Subsidiary Rhino Garments to Shut

Published date:
Tuesday, 05 April 2005

More than 1 600 workers at the Rhino Garments factory in Windhoek will lose their jobs when the factory closes at the end of this month.

The Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) announced yesterday that it had been informed of the closure after months of "speculation, denials and allegations" about the future of the Ramatex subsidiary.

Rumours that it would shut up shop started circulation as early as January.

At a press briefing in Windhoek late yesterday, Nafau Acting Secretary General Kiros Sakarias said the union would negotiate retrenchment packages for the factory's about 1 635 employees.

Sakarias warned that the closure of the factory was "likely to create growing insecurity among a large number of working people at Ramatex as well".

In the letter to the union, Rhino Garments claimed that the closure was necessitated by a lack of buyers of their products.

It also alleged that "negative statements" by Nafau and an alleged push by the International Textile, Garments and Leather Workers Union (ITGLWF) for buyers to "boycott" Ramatex's products had contributed to the situation.

The ITFLWF did not call for a boycott.

It said it only wrote to Ramatex buyers in January, informing them of poor labour practices at the company and urged them to press for better working conditions for employees.

Nafau has also rejected the allegations by Rhino Garments, describing them as "silly" and lacking in substance.

Sakarias said as an affiliate of ITGLWF, Nafau had informed them of ongoing labour problems at the factory, but had not asked the international union to take the matter further.

"Our union should not be made a scapegoat by dishonest investors who know that the hour has come for them to call it a day.

"When investors are requested to uphold workers' rights and respect that law of the land, it should not be made an excuse for shifting their accumulated wealth," Sakarias said.

On April 24, Rhino Garments management, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Nafau jointly denied that Rhino Garments was facing closure.

But they admitted that the company was experiencing financial problems because of a lack of customers.

Yesterday, Nafau also referred to problems linked to globalisation.

"In a world where capital is more mobile than workers, different forms of business organisations and relationships are being created which can shift employment and threaten collective bargaining."

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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.

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