Just received the March issue (Vol.1, Issue 12) of the National Union of Namibian Workers' The Namibian Worker, & thought some people might be interested in a quick report. Headline issues are a NUNW warning against corruption and the amendment of the EPZ Act.
In a statement on the tabling of the 1996/97 budget, the NUNW calls for "'transparency in the administration of public funds'", saying that it does "'not accept the cover-up of officials implicated'". The federation also criticised Finance Minister, Helmut Angula, for making "'unrealistic projections'" for the economy, and charged that the budget lacked long term perspective. The budget's projected economic growth rate is 5%, with the NUNW arguing that 2-3% is more realistic. The NUNW is reported as also arguing that "sufficient efforts have not been made to alleviate poverty, while social justice and equal distribution of wealth remain an unfulfilled promise for the masses."
The EPZ Act amendment is reported as allowing for the application of the Labour Act in EPZs, but prohibits strikes and lock-outs. According to the Trade and Industry Minister, Hidipo Hamutenya, a consensus has been reached whereby production would be maintained throughout disputes, which would be resolved through dispute resolution procedures. "At no stage was collective bargaining threatened," said Cde Hamutenya, "as this is provided for in the Namibian Constitution".
In a separate Editorial, NUNW Vice President IUD Kalenga makes an open plea to the government regarding the EPZ Act:
"In spite of economic hardship, I am seriously urging the national Assembly and the National Council, our leaders to ensure that the rights of the Namibian workers are not put at stake and to ensure that the principle of tripartism (ILO Convention No.144) is not violated."
Cde Kalenga charges that in denying the right to strike, the EPZ Act violates the Namibian Labour Act No 6 of 1992 - this he claims "is UNCONSTITUTIONAL and a global gross violation of ILO Conventions No.87 and 98."
This edition also gives substantial coverage of the Mineworkers Union of Namibia's dispute with Tsumeb Corporation Limited. TCL is planning the closure of the De Wet mine shaft in June, and according to MUN is preparing for this with unfair dismissals and 'retirements without notice' particularly of MUN organised workers. In a list of over 20 demands, MUN also charges TCL with discrimination and with employing former Koevoet and SWATF members as security guards to threaten and harrass workers. It is reported that 700 mineworkers took to the streets in Tsumeb in a MUN organised march to TCL headquarters.
Hope that's been of interest. I'd be interested if anyone had any comments to offer on union responses to EPZs elsewhere in Africa?
The Namibian Worker is available outside Namibia by international subscription for US$30 per year. Send to "The Namibian Worker", PO Box 50034, Bachbrecht, Windhoek, Namibia.