WALVIS BAY - The government does not have the interests of workers at heart, hence unionists should become bigger players to safeguard the future of the country and the public, says the Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress of Namibia (Tucna), Mahongora Kavihuha.
Kahihuha was speaking at the opening of a workshop here to amend the Labour Act of 2007. He said the Labour Commission is toothless and run by useless public servants, as the interests of workers are not fully protected. He added that they want the Labour Commission to be transformed into a parastatal so that a labour commissioner is appointed on a five-year contract and renewed according to performance. “At the current stage, we have lawmakers and parliamentarians who are business people, who certainly do not have the interests of workers at heart or don’t fully comply with the Labour Act and are also not held accountable for their actions,” he said.
Kavihuha said the Labour Act in its current form has confined the right to strike to basically only enforcing the Act when employees are subjected to unfair labour treatment and for salary increases. “That is why many people are blaming the unions of only striking when salaries are involved. It is not true it is the law that is not empowering us. We want the labour law to be amended so that we can also have solidarity strikes, when we are unhappy with decisions made by government. We as Namibians want to be able to strike in our masses with any worker that is mistreated or fired, whether it is from government or private sector,” he said.
Referring to the recent strike at Unam, he added that it has taught unions a valuable lesson that all loopholes in the Labour Act should be closed. The current law is also not in favour of workers, Kavihuha said, adding that parliamentarians and some high officials in the public service are also business people and they do not fully act in the interest of the workers, as they are both lawmakers and employers. “That is also why the worst labour relations exists in parastatals.”