250 Retreched OFWs Refuse to Leave Namibia Empty-Handed

March 22, 2008 – 5:01pm

An alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations based in the Middle East urged the Philippine government to help about 250 OFWs in Namibia who were retrenched from work following the closing down of Ramatex Textiles.

Ramatex Textiles, southern Africa’s largest textile manufacturing industry located at the outskirts of Windhoek, shut down its operations early March after claiming losses of up to N$500 million (P2.6 billion). But according to the Labour Resources and Research Institution (LaRRI), the Malaysian-owned textile factory that shut down its operations on March 7, was able to export N$488 million worth of goods to the United States in 2004, of which only 11 percent was spent on wages. In 2006, LaRRI showed that Ramatex had earned about N$206 million from exports to the USA.

“The 250 OFWs in Namibia who were retrenched from work and were later forced to agree to repatriation, providing that they could get all the compensation due to them, deserve our support. We urge the Arroyo administration to make representations with the Namibian government to ensure that the rights of the OFWs will be protected,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said that having no Philippine embassy in Namibia “should not be an excuse for not sending its official representative to dialogue with the Namibian government to protect the rights of the 250 retrenched OFWs and to pursue their legitimate claims against their employer, before their repatriation.”

Meanwhile, Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) General Secretary Kiros Sackarias negotiated with the Ramatex management for the retrenched Namibians and foreign workers, including the Filipinos.

Retreched Filipino workers at Ramatex refused to bow to company demands that they leave the country immediately or risk taking responsibility for their return home. Many of the OFWs indicated their work permits were due to expire between the end of March and April.

Sackarias supported the OFWs, praising them for their firm stand, and gave assurances that the union will help them claim their compensation.

“We support you for making that decision. We feel it’s not right for you to be made to go back (home) empty-handed. We find it very arrogant of them (Ramatex) to threaten you like this,” Sackarias was quoted in news reports as saying. (Bulatlat.com)

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