16 July 2012

Namibia: Tense Labour Relations Worrisome - Nujoma

Windhoek — Former president Dr Sam Nujoma says the tense labour relations in the country are a source of concern.

He said this during the third annual Ohlthaver and List (O&L) Group of Companies and Epia Investment Holdings gala dinner at a local hotel on Saturday evening.

"In terms of business, the tense labour relations in the country are a source of concern because industrial disputes hinder productivity," he noted.

Nujoma encouraged the private sector to engage government in dialogue to exchange views in order to foster a common understanding of the challenges that Namibia faces as a nation, as well as the actions that need to be taken.

This should be done with a clear purpose to achieve the country's broad national objectives, as well as to deliver more economic benefits to citizens in the form of new employment opportunities, higher levels of prosperity and the accompanying improvement in the living conditions of Namibians.

About 300 workers at AngloAshanti's Navachab Gold Mine (NGM) threatened to strike on Friday.

Plans to strike resulted from a refusal by NGM to accept demands made by the workers through the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) for an increase of 12 per cent on their basic wages.

NGM rejected the offer and said they are only able to give the workers an increase of 7 percent, after initially offering an 8 percent increase which was also turned down by the MUN.

Last month, close to 300 workers of Namibia Beverages also went on strike. The strike ended after the workers' exclusive bargaining agent, the Namibia Food and Allied Workers' Union (Nafau), and the company signed a memorandum of agreement for a 12,5 percent increase.

In May this year, the Labour Court granted the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) an interim interdict to stop a pending strike by workers unhappy with a restructuring process there.

Epia Investment Holdings is a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) partner of O&L Holdings - a vehicle that the group specifically created to accommodate a 49 percent BEE partnership.

The empowerment group is made up of various shareholders representing traditional communities (through traditional leaders) and business leaders.

According to the O&L website, Epia "strives to motivate these leaders to lead and grow their communities to economic independence, thereby stimulating the Namibian economy to in turn create more opportunities for empowerment and development at grassroots levels".

Saturday's gala dinner followed a consultative conference started in 2010.

The conference aims to create a platform for members to meet and create dialogue and synergies on how best to collaborate in smart partnerships and for the expansion of the empowerment group.


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