15 November 2012

Namibia: Trade Unions Urged to Be Neutral

Rundu — The opposition DTA's Kavango Regional Coordinator Vincent Kanyetu has called on all trade unions to refrain from affiliating to political parties and that they should instead concentrate on advocating the rights of all Namibian workers.

Speaking exclusively to New Era recently, Kanyetu says if unions are affiliated to political parties they will not be able to defend the interests of the workers effectively. "We see in most cases that unions are affiliated to one or another party, this must come to an end, because the workers are the ones that end up suffering. Union leaders will never betray their parties, meaning the interests of the workers will always be secondary," the DTA regional coordinator said.

Political interference in union issues is a recipe for failure, because the unions will never be in a position to assume independent positions to advance the interests of workers, he said.

Meanwhile, Kanyetu also urged the Namibian National Teachers Union (Nantu) members to push for the removal of their Secretary General, Basilius Haingura. Kanyetu said teachers have been very patient, while their leaders are resting on their laurels, therefore they have every reason to strike.

"Haingura is doing nothing to help the teachers at the moment, how can one region be on strike, while in other regions the teachers are continuing with classes? Clearly there is no unity," he said. Teachers need better wages because they are nurturing our future leaders, but it is unfortunate that they have the wrong leadership, Kanyetu added.

"Teachers are parents as well, so how must they take care of their families? If you take Windhoek teachers as an example, most of them cannot even afford a house and have to resort to living in outside rooms, mostly in Shandubala, Okahandja Park and Babylon," he said. "When our Members of Parliament wanted a salary increment it was done hastily, so why can it not be the same for the teachers?" queried Kanyetu.

"I am confident that the minister is taking this issue very seriously, because who will be blamed if our learners fail. I am urging all parties that are involved in the negotiations to speed up the process," Kanyetu urged.

Kanyetu said the teachers' strike is an issue of national concern, hence political affiliation should not be considered during the negotiations.

"As a nation we want to see an amicable solution, because this depicts a very bad image of Namibia to the outside world and of our leaders. Various sectors were on strike this year, meaning government does not consider the needs of the people because they only want to act when people go on strike," he said.

With the watershed Swapo Party Congress around the corner, Kanyetu added: "How ironic that the man who has been so vocal advocating for the plight of workers had to be suspended right before the much-anticipated Swapo Congress."

Kanyetu is disappointed that nobody is demanding the reinstatement of Kaaronda after everything he has done for workers.

"This man was the only person who demanded fearlessly for answers on the GIPF issue. I am sure the ruling party is the mastermind behind Kaaronda's suspension for reasons known only to them. I am really urging Kaaronda to challenge the suspension in a court of law," said Kanyetu, adding that the workers are crying but yet they fail to support the man who is advocating tirelessly on their behalf.

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