TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Namibia: Ramatex, Govt. hold Meetings

Friday, 11 August 2006

Source: The Namibian (Windhoek)

A veil of secrecy has been thrown around meetings between Ramatex Executive Director Albert Lim and Government in Windhoek this week.

Lim reportedly slipped into the country at the beginning of week.

He is said to have held closed-door meetings with Government representatives during the week.

For the past two days, no Government official has wanted to comment on Lim's visit, or the talks.

Unionists appeared to be unaware of the Ramatex director's visit.

Ramatex employees spoken to this week suspect that Lim's visit has to do with speculation that the company plans to import additional foreign labourers.

The Namibian Food and Allied Workers' Union (Nafau) told The Namibian two weeks ago that it had asked the company for answers about these rumours.

Nafau General Secretary Kiros Sacharias said yesterday that they had still not received a reply.

Although unaware of Lim's presence in the country, or Government's meetings with him, Sackarias said the union would probably have more clarity today after meeting with company management.

Andrew Ndishishi, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, yesterday acknowledged having met with Lim throughout the week, but refused to comment on the purpose of these meetings.

He referred the newspaper to the Office of the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Nahas Angula was said to be unavailable, as was his personal assistant.

Neither Lim nor Ramatex General Manager BK Ong could be reached for comment since Wednesday.

Government and the trade unions are currently engaged in negotiations with the company, which only a few months ago planned on pulling out of Namibia, citing bad publicity and a lack of productivity at its Windhoek factory.

Workers, however, are still demanding salary increases and better working conditions, while blaming the unions of not taking their concerns seriously.

"If they're going to bring in more foreign workers, we don't mind that.

But then they shouldn't be telling us they don't have money to increase our salaries," one worker said.

"The unions are also not concerned with our problems.

They're too busy preparing for (the Swapo) congress which is upcoming," he added.

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