WINDHOEK: The leadership of the Namibian Employers’ Federation (NEF) has described the current wave of labour unrest in the country as a cause of serious concern.
The federation said in a media statement availed to Nampa here on Wednesday that the current wave of labour unrest is affecting not only the livelihoods of the striking workforce, but also the economic sustainability of the various private companies and the State-owned entities concerned.
The current wave of labour unrest is also sending some negative messages to potential investors, local and foreign alike, the NEF stated.
“Couple this current scenario with the recent release of the World Economic Forum’s Competitiveness ratings, and our potential as an investment haven is surely on a slippery downward slope.
Where a parastatal says there is no money for any increase, not even equating inflation, then the structure and management of that organisation should be placed under a microscope, evaluated in detail and immediate rectification made. Where is the efficiency and accountability?“, questioned the NEF leadership.
“The fact that the Office of the Labour Commissioner has had 784 cases referred to it in one quarter shows that there is something seriously wrong. The NEF has queried the effectiveness of the Labour Commissioner’s Office on many occasions, and we raise that query again.
This type of figure indicates there is something wrong and that it needs attention now, not tomorrow. Where exactly the problem lies, requires expert and deep research“, charged the NEF.
According to the employers, one recent comment regarding the causes of the alleged labour unrest needs to be immediately and once and for all put to rest.
“Salary increases above inflation should only be given when there is commensurate and guaranteed increase in productivity. It is high time that Namibians, senior and junior, must learn that pay remunerates work, and work should be worthy of that remuneration. Never increase wages and salaries above inflation without serious and proven increases in the quality of the output, ” NEF surmised.
“We have to query the justification of some of the actions of the trade unions. Is it realistic to expect a struggling Transnamib (why it is struggling is another question) to give increases between 21 per cent and 33 per cent?
This shows a total lack of economic understanding. We also have to warn about the current internal leadership manoeuvring within the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW). This gives the impression to outsiders, including rank and file members, of the leadership being more concerned about their own situation and not in the least about the well-being of their members, let alone the masses of unemployed“, they continued
Another aspect that also needs to receive serious attention, said NEF, is that of mutual trust between employers and workers.
“Most companies earn reasonable and acceptable returns for their risk and investment, some make losses and delve into cash reserves, borrowed or personal, but only a few, and we emphasise the word few, make unreasonable profits. However, companies do not trust worker representatives, unionised or not, with delicate financial reports which could have serious implications in the hands of competitors, ” they noted.
The NEF leadership then appealed to all Namibians not to allow the country to be dragged down any further by unrealistic wage demands by workers of the unprofitable, badly managed parastatals.
“Namibia cannot afford to follow so many other countries with employment dropping, labour unrest increasing and investment possibilities dwindling and being lost to more competitive and productive countries, “the statement continued.
At the present moment, the entire workforce at AgriBank is still on strike for the past three weeks, demanding salary increases. The administrative workers at the Polytechnic of Namibia went on strike on Monday this week, also demanding salary increases.