Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (Manwu) secretary general Justina Jonas-Emvula has urged the government to engage unions more on issues related to the plight of workers. According to the trade unionist, government boasts with all the expertise to deal with workers’ issues.
“Is clear that Namibia’s social dialogue on labour matters is weak, so leaders in government need to change their approach on how they handle issues of the workers in this country,” said Jonas-Emvula while speaking on the state of trade unions and workers 31 years after independence.
“There is pure lack of consultation, decisions are made with major implications on workers, but the trade unions with expertise that are able to provide better solutions are arrogantly ignored.”
Jonas-Emvula also called on Namibian workers, especially youthful workers, to join unions of their choice, saying it is only through numbers that unions will be able to bargain successfully.
“Of course, we cannot please every member every time, but it is important that union relevance is seen by its members,” she said.
“My message to the Namibian workers is find a union to join, but before you join ensure that you are choosing an organisation with a purpose and reputation.”
She said that during the Covid19 lockdown they noted that many “yellow” unions disappeared, leaving workers stranded.
“So, it is important when you decide to join a union to first do research of that union, and ensure that the union is complying with the Labour Act provisions in terms of establishment and existence,” she said.
Highlighting her union Manwu’s achievements for the last 14 years, Jonas-Emvula said the union, among others, provided education to more than 2 000 leaders at workplace level and established functional youth and women structures.
“Manwu is one of the few, if not the only union, that has women and youth structures in place and fully participating in the union activities,” she said.
Also, she said, her union successfully maintained the most effective bargaining forum within the construction sector and also developed national campaigns aimed to influence national policies.
“We maintained the worker’s control strategy within the organisation, produced leaders serving at various levels in their workplaces and communities and we have also built capacity for our staff members to deal with local, national, regional and global labour challenges,” she said.
Furthermore, Jonas-Emvula says Manwu is now preparing to fully participate in the process of the establishment of the national minimum wage.
“Manwu believes that it is every employee’s right to participate in this process; we will launch a campaign soon to encourage employees to participate in this process. We need to influence the process as workers,” she said.