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Construction workers demand medical aid

Members of the Metal and Allied Namibian Worker’s Union (MANWU) took part in a march that disrupted the capital on Wednesday, calling for employers to raise the stakes by offering workers medical aid cover, pension funds, adequate compassionate leave and paid maternity leave, amongst others.
Justina Jonas, Secretary General of MANWU said, “Our demands are realistic, employers must be realistic, we have other small, medium and bigger companies paying their employees well with all the benefits, there must a be balance.  Many companies in Namibia are making good returns but  find it difficult to share this with the workers who are at the point of production. We need to create a balance, a realistic balance between low-income and high-income earners.”

Said Jonas, “MANWU has decided to break new ground in workplaces across the country and to develop our demands for 2014. In collecting these demands our key and strategic objective is to improve and harmonise the wages and conditions of employment for our members in various workplaces.
According to Jonas, some employers and employees have already started negotiating. Some employees are said to be busy formulating their demands and normal negotiations are expected to kick-off in May. Negotiations are expected to be concluded by 2015 and MANWU will have aimed to have no gaps, Jonas told the Economist.
She said, “The shop stewards are going to guide the workers to formulate their wage proposals for those who are only expected to enter negotiations with their employers in May this year.
We are preparing for the mother of all battles as we shall champion the struggle for a living wage for all low income workers in our sectors. MANWU will use this platform of negotiations to drive the living wage agenda in our sectors. We will use these platforms to defend existing jobs and fight for more decent jobs for MANWU members and prospective members.”
“Employers are always advised to negotiate in good faith.
 When we put these demands out we did an internal research to evaluate and measure the demands put forward.
The employers may have a different view, but strike action can only be avoided if both parties are committed to negotiations. Strike action will only come about if parties reach deadlock during the negotiations,” concluded Jonas.

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