Sunday 16 May 2021
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The link between workers and prosperity

Mathias Haufiku

Hope is a word that has long kept many Namibians afloat even when the light at the end of the tunnel seem to have disappeared.
Hope for employment, food on the table, better education, crime-free society and many other life situations linked with prosperity or better yet…enablers of prosperity.
Whether you talk of  wealth, success, affluence, riches, opulence, the good life, fortune, welfare, comfort, security or well-being, Namibians who are onthe verge of losing the bit of hope that remains want nothing but enablers of a basic life.
A few days ago we celebrated Workers Day, this day is marked despite the endless sufferings of workers in the country which range from poor working conditions, discrimination and marathon working hours that do not match with the salary.
A nation cannot be prosperous if its workers who are the drivers of development are not looked after.
Governments all across the world place too much emphasis on ensuring that the conditions for the investors are sound while those for workers play second fiddle.
We watch on daily basis as our brothers and sisters are transported to construction sites in open trucks like animals being transported to an auction. Laws are in place to prevent such situations, but enforcement thereof leaves much to be desired.
Taking care of workers is the first step towards attaining prosperity in any State, simply because workers have a domino effect on the entire nation. They feed their families, send children to schools and utilize services and products offered by the public and private sector.
Prosperity is a term linked to opulence, but in our case the prosperity many of our people which to attain is that of being able to live a dignified life, one which assures them of a shelter, food, security, education, healthcare and employment.
In fact, many Namibians who continue to languish in poverty do not wish to amass wealth, all they want is an opportunity to live a dignified life.
President Hage Geingob rightly asserted on Workers Day that workers are and will always be Namibia’s most valuable asset in the fight against poverty and in the pursuit of a prosperous future.
A nation without workers is like a car with no engine-mobility is not possible.
Just like we maintain our cars engine and make sure the car is serviced at the prescribed time, so too should we care for our workers.
It makes no sense for workers to be second class citizens while they are the drivers of the country’s economy.
Over the years May Day attracted huge crowds of workers who brace the hot sun to attend mass rallies annually on May 1st. A close analysis of the situation shows that the trend has shifted significantly as more and more workers feel there is nothing to celebrate.
The slow-death of trade unions and more so unions hopping into bed with political parties has worsened the situation. The workers are left on their own, those who are supposed to represent their interests rake in thousands monthly in union fees paid by workers, without doing much to fight for the wellbeing of workers.
Unions like NUNW have over the years explicitly displayed their affection for the ruling party, it comes as no surprise that government employees who work under in the Swapo-run government continue to cry year on year over the same issues.
A labour expert last year said “while some may argue that a multitude of trade unions and the existence of three federations offer workers a wide choice, the current reality shows a different picture.”
Instead of uniting to fight employers as a single force, personal interests and the fight for positions has led to the existence of more than 40 trade unions in the country all claiming to fight for the interests of workers. It is however perplexing to note that bodies that claim to fight for a common cause cannot sit on one table to fight as a bloc. The unions now spend time fighting each other and commit the leftover energy to fight for the workers.
This is one of the reasons why employers can get away with ignoring labour laws left, right and centre. The unions who are supposed to act partly as watchdogs are nowhere to be seen and only surface from the wilderness when it comes seeking media attention during industrial strikes which could have been averted had they done their work from the onset.
As the nation continues the journey to prosperity, we all need to remember to keep our engine[workers] well-oiled because without it we simply cannot move.

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