Construction Industries Federation, MANWU ink MoU in bid to revive COVID-19 hit industry
The Construction Industries Federation (CIF) and the Metal and Allied Workers Union (MANWU) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) this week, with the objective to collaborate on matters of mutual interest, with a focus on the revival of the local construction industry and employment in the sector.
The MoU is based on understanding the precarious nature of the construction sector, which has seen a contraction since 2015; and has seen a slump of the GDP contribution from 6.6 % in the first quarter of 2015 to 1.5% in the first quarter in 2021; as well as the recognition that the repercussions of such a downturn have led to many closures and downsizing of businesses in the sector.
According to CIF, 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 business, to the extent that it is still possible.
Both the CIF and MANWU also recognised that a consequence of this is a large-scale retrenchment in the sector since the start of the recession in 2016 and it is for this reason that the CIF and MANWU decided to formalise their collaboration and coordination of their action in order to raise awareness of both the plight of the employers and the employees in the industry and to ensure a stronger construction sector.
Bärbel Kirchner, general manager of the CIF, said, “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,” she added.
Justina Jonas-Emvula, secretary-general of MANWU said,” 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 an MoU is signed between employees and employers to advocate issues of common interest”.
Meanwhile, 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.
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 regulation 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 Namibian capacity.
From left to right: Josephine Shiweda (MANWU central branch co-ordinator), Bärbel Kirchner (general manager – CIF), Justina Jonas-Emvula SG MANWU), Janet Jockey Education co-ordinator MANWU).