Thread of hope at Ramatex

Thread of hope at Ramatex

THERE may yet be light at the end of the tunnel for thousands of Ramatex workers who live in perpetual fear of losing their jobs.

Fresh discussions are underway on how to improve productivity and labour relations at the factory – the main reason the Malaysian company gave for wanting to shut up shop only a month ago. Yesterday Acting General Secretary of the Namibian Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Nafau) Kiros Sackarias described a meeting between union leaders and Ramatex management as “fruitful”.Sackarias said after the meeting that the union was committed to finding solutions to problems cited by Ramatex but not at the cost of the workers’ wellbeing.Workers have complained of poor working conditions and less than ideal salaries.The union was invited by Ramatex to discuss the contentious issue of productivity.Earlier this week, Ramatex said it would not comment on the current state of limbo as negotiations on the factory’s future remained ongoing.It did say, however, that production was in full swing.Following yesterday’s meeting a special committee was established.It is comprised of Ramatex technical and operational staff, as well as union representatives and shop stewards.They are expected to take an in-depth look into factors affecting productivity.When the committee meets on Tuesday, Ramatex is expected to present a detailed production plan and targets for discussions on how to meet these levels.Sackarias pointed out there were a number of factors affecting workers’ morale and their desire to produce.He said workers felt that their problems had not been addressed over the years and this had had an effect on how they worked.Sackarias said he also found it unfair that Namibians were being blamed for the poor working environment and relationship.”We are committed to finding solutions.We want to see how we can address the issues and also health and safety,” said Sackarias.Sackarias said the union had inferred from the discussions that Ramatex was prepared to continue operations in Namibia if productivity levels could be improved.But there was still no certainty on the long-term future of the factory, which employs more than 6 000 Namibians.”We will assist where possible to improve productivity, but productivity can’t be maximised at the expense of and wellbeing of employees,” said Sackarias.”We don’t want to put them at the mercy of the company.”He said he hoped this time around the discussions would lead to a positive turnaround.Workers have said that they have lost faith in their union to act in their best interests as protracted wage negotiations remained unresolved.Sackarias said yesterday that this issue had not come up for discussion.In May, Ramatex gave Government an ultimatum that it should buy the factory, indicating that it was no longer interested in doing business in Namibia.Government turned down the offer and instead proposed working on a turnaround plan for the operations.The negotiations have not yet been exhausted.Yesterday Acting General Secretary of the Namibian Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Nafau) Kiros Sackarias described a meeting between union leaders and Ramatex management as “fruitful”.Sackarias said after the meeting that the union was committed to finding solutions to problems cited by Ramatex but not at the cost of the workers’ wellbeing.Workers have complained of poor working conditions and less than ideal salaries.The union was invited by Ramatex to discuss the contentious issue of productivity.Earlier this week, Ramatex said it would not comment on the current state of limbo as negotiations on the factory’s future remained ongoing.It did say, however, that production was in full swing.Following yesterday’s meeting a special committee was established.It is comprised of Ramatex technical and operational staff, as well as union representatives and shop stewards. They are expected to take an in-depth look into factors affecting productivity.When the committee meets on Tuesday, Ramatex is expected to present a detailed production plan and targets for discussions on how to meet these levels.Sackarias pointed out there were a number of factors affecting workers’ morale and their desire to produce.He said workers felt that their problems had not been addressed over the years and this had had an effect on how they worked.Sackarias said he also found it unfair that Namibians were being blamed for the poor working environment and relationship.”We are committed to finding solutions.We want to see how we can address the issues and also health and safety,” said Sackarias.Sackarias said the union had inferred from the discussions that Ramatex was prepared to continue operations in Namibia if productivity levels could be improved.But there was still no certainty on the long-term future of the factory, which employs more than 6 000 Namibians.”We will assist where possible to improve productivity, but productivity can’t be maximised at the expense of and wellbeing of employees,” said Sackarias.”We don’t want to put them at the mercy of the company.”He said he hoped this time around the discussions would lead to a positive turnaround.Workers have said that they have lost faith in their union to act in their best interests as protracted wage negotiations remained unresolved.Sackarias said yesterday that this issue had not come up for discussion.In May, Ramatex gave Government an ultimatum that it should buy the factory, indicating that it was no longer interested in doing business in Namibia.Government turned down the offer and instead proposed working on a turnaround plan for the operations.The negotiations have not yet been exhausted.

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