Workers don’t understand nor appreciate labour union memberships – Nujoma

Erasmus Shalihaxwe

Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation Utoni Nujoma believes that many workers in Namibia today don’t understand or appreciate adequately how trade union membership can benefit them.

According to him, those who are not members have negative attitudes toward trade unions.

The minister spoke on Wednesday, at the Workers’ Day celebrations in Rundu in the Kavango East region.

‘’We must work hard to demonstrate the positive value of trade union membership. I also encourage you to consider multi-media strategies to publicise workers’ gains through your affiliate unions and keep trade union activities and views in the public eye,” he said.

Nujoma added that trade unions can play a stronger role in economic growth and development by prioritising the organisation of unorganised workers and workers in new areas of economic development.

The minister added that labour unions should advocate that government policies and investment programmes include content that ensures labour protection and maximises employment creation.

He further encouraged trade unions, to create platforms that promote unification of the labour movement and alliances between and among federations on matters of common interest.

“I am informed that 44 trade unions are registered with the Labour Commissioner. Fragmentation of trade union representation in sectors and unprincipled raiding of established bargaining units will never be in the interest of the workers, and it can lead to unwarranted instability in labour relations,’’ Nujoma advised.

Meanwhile, the Revolutionary Union (RU), in its Workers’ Day message, has urged all employees to unite and stand against the outdated practices perpetuated by traditional trade unions, which have failed to serve the interests of employees for 34 years.

According to RU, old labour unions have prioritised money over the genuine concerns of workers, perpetuating a cycle of exploitation and a rotten labour-hire system.

‘’These useless unions still cling on to power even where employees have kissed goodbye to them and continue imposing themselves on employees like an abusive boyfriend who never accepts a breakup. Let us continue rejecting these useless unions and punish them for auctioning your rights to the lowest bidder.

Unity among employees in Namibia is paramount in reshaping the labour industry. We call upon workers to reject divisive tactics and to stand together in solidarity. Furthermore, let us condemn any individuals who align themselves with capitalists to exploit Namibian workers for personal gain. These individuals are akin to parasites draining the lifeblood of our nation. We call for their isolation and rejection by all,’’ the RU said.

The union called on employees to transform from victims of loans to potential investors.

The union advised workers to demand employee share schemes and be shareholders along with their employer.

“Let us be part of the dinner table. We need to transform the narrative of being subjected to funeral covers and invest in the future. The capitalists have abused us for far too long, and we must stop that,” reads the RU statement.

The RU also urge workers to closely follow the reported asset management tender at the Social Security Commission, where it is reported that an asset management tender worth N$500 million of workers’ money has been awarded to entities that did not undergo the required competitive bidding process.

Windhoek Observer last month reported that the bid evaluation was also done outside the Procurement thresholds rules for public entities which states that the board must conduct the bidding process on behalf of a public entity for the award of a contract that exceeds the threshold for such a public entity.

The SSC falls under category three with the threshold for Consultancy services estimated value of procurement not exceeding N$10 million and N$5 million for non-consultancy services.

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