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Namibia: Workers Anti Ramatex Buyout by Government

Published date:
Monday, 29 May 2006
New Era (Windhoek)

Namibian workers believe that government should not succumb to the pressure from Ramatex to buy the troubled company.

Secretary General of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) Evilastus Kaaronda told New Era yesterday that the general feeling expressed by the workers is that "Government has given too much already to the Malaysian company and now should stand its ground during the negotiations".

The Namibian government and the City of Windhoek have provided Ramatex enormous financial benefits such as subsidised water and electricity tariffs, as well as the provision of costly infrastructure in order to bring the textile company to Namibia.

Kaaronda noted that the workers want the government to use the N$500 000 Ramatex is asking for towards the improvement of the welfare of the workers.

"The workers want the money instead to be used for training or to create other employment opportunities than to give the Malaysians a golden handshake of half a million."

Kaaronda added that the workers also want government to hold Ramatex accountable for any environmental damages that might have occurred because of the company's operations in the country.

It is believed that the area around Ramatex has been severely contaminated with dangerous chemicals and that their effluent cannot be taken into the Gammams water purification works.

Ramatex has given the Namibian government until tomorrow morning to make up its mind. The Malaysian company has stated that it prefers a payout to the proposed turnaround strategy that the government has come up with to avoid job losses of over 6 000. Kaa-ronda also noted the Technical Committee, which has been set up to look into the Ramatex saga will be meeting this morning to make a final decision.

"The Technical Committee is meeting this morning and will make the final recommendations which might be submitted to the Cabinet on Tuesday."

He also expressed dissatisfaction with the manner in which government handled the Ramatex issue since the idea was conceived.

"We have warned government before about Ra-matex and they just ignored us and now they want us to be part of a problem they created."

He added that government this time around might be forced to listen to the workers, given the problem they find themselves in.

Kaaronda also warned government to act sooner rather than later and to be hands on, on the proceedings at the textile company.

"If government does not act now, we will face a similar situation as that of Rhino Garment Factory which left with all its machines without paying out its workers." He said government should ensure that Ramatex fulfils all its legal labour obligations before it goes back home.

Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary of Trade and Industry Andrew Ndishishi, who spearheaded the establishment of Ramatex, told New Era yesterday that his ministry was working on a turnaround strategy to save the textile company with or without Ramatex.

"We are looking at saving Namibians losing their jobs whether Ramatex leaves or remains."

Ndishishi refused to comment further on the Ramatex issue and noted that Prime Minister Nahas Angula was now responsible for the negotiations with Ramatex.

Angula could not be reached for comment.

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