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CIF and MANWU join forces 

2021-10-08  Staff Reporter

CIF and MANWU join forces 
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Concerned about the state of the Namibian construction sector, the Construction Industries Federation (CIF) and the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (MANWU) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Wednesday.

The objective is to collaborate on matters of mutual interest. Specifically, they focus on the revival of the local construction industry and employment within the sector. 

The agreement is based on understanding the precarious nature of the construction sector in Namibia, which has seen a contraction since 2015; and whose contribution to Namibia’s GDP has declined from 6.6 % in the first quarter of 2015 to 1.5% in the first quarter of 2021. It also recognises the repercussions of such a downturn which has led to many closures and downsizing of businesses in the sector. The majority of construction businesses are operating at a loss and owners or shareholders have to cut costs and rely on personal finance, overdrafts and loans to ensure the continuity of their businesses, to the extent that it is still possible. 

Both the CIF and MANWU also recognise the consequence of this is a large-scale retrenchment in the sector since the start of the recession in 2016. 

It is for this reason that the two decided to formalise their collaboration and coordination of their action in order to raise awareness of both the plight of employers and employees in the industry and to ensure a stronger local construction sector. 

As such, the employers’ federation and the union have decided to embark on joint advocacy efforts to continue working towards optimal development of the construction sector – that will allow space for small-to-medium sized enterprises, emerging contractors, and large-sized contractors to operate profitably. 

Both parties to the MoU will continue to jointly advocate the establishment of a national construction council that will ensure the registration and categorisation of all businesses in the construction sector. It also remains of interest to see that procurement practices will secure optimal engagement of Namibian-owned businesses and the employment of Namibian workers. 

An additional objective is to create awareness of “tenderpreneurism” and highlight legal loopholes that continue to create opportunities for “agents” without creating any additional value.

Some of the joint advocacy efforts will include activities such as seeking an audience with the top political echelons to share concerns from both employers and the employees, at the highest level of government.

In addition, in order to reach a diversity of stakeholders, including the media, the two parties to the MoU will host joint Zoom seminars to cover relevant issues that affect the industry. These include the state of the construction sector and possible solutions; the importance of regulating the construction sector; the creation of decent and sustainable jobs through the construction sector; the establishment of procurement thresholds, categories and criteria in the construction sector; and to consider the sizing of projects to secure the optimal engagement of local capacity.

“Since 2015, our industry has experienced a drastic decline. However, we need to recognise that our proposed changes can have a massive impact and positively affect the growth in our industry and ultimately its contribution to the Namibian economy. We have signed this MoU as both our employers and the employees are equally to gain from a probable future upturn in our industry and benefit from the regulation of our sector,” said Bärbel Kirchner, general manager of the CIF. 

Justina Jonas-Emvula, secretary general of MANWU commented: “The construction sector is united for a good cause. We have an obligation to ensure that our sector continues to provide decent jobs, which can be supported by a sustainable procurement system to benefit Namibians. This is the first time ever that a MoU is signed between employees and employers to advocate issues of common interest.”

2021-10-08  Staff Reporter

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