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Strikes in Namibia: SPYL PERSPECTIVE!

By Salomo Hei (SPYL), Windhoek
The strike season has hit our shores especially this year. In our southern neighbor the effects of such strikes are there for all to see.

However in Namibia, strikes are symptomatic of a larger more systemic fault line within the political economy and thus we are likely to see this continue sporadically until the structural issues are addressed.

There is growing frustration that the rate of improvement in people's lives does not measure up to their expectation of what independent Namibia would deliver. John Kennan (2003) likens an economic strike as a suspension of production while workers and their employer argue about how to divide the surplus from their relationship.

Modern economic theories of strikes assume that at least one side has private information about the surplus, viewing the lost production as a cost of extracting information. There is evidence that strike incidence is high at the peak of the business cycle, but strike duration seems to fall when the economy is strong. Strike activity is evidently influenced by the legislative environment, and particularly by legislation restricting the use of replacement workers.

Namibia's economic inequality is amongst the worst in the world and is not sustainable which will increasingly put pressure on government, labour and business to come up with a long term solution. It is not an issue that can only be addressed by government and requires all stakeholders to put aside their narrow interests and to focus on a more sustainable socio-economic model.

For business and labour, it cannot be business as usual and requires a very different mindset and we are currently not anywhere close to reaching such consensus.

It is than against this background that the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) would like to make an attempt to address the structural deficiencies in Namibia's political economy. The ideal outcome is a lasting solution which brings business, government and labour together in.

This will not be easy given Namibia's past and the antagonistic nature of relations between these stakeholders. Although some of these issues are not unique to Namibia as other emerging markets find themselves in similar dilemmas. Different countries deal with this differently; Latin American countries have done so ranging from nationalization in Venezuela and more recently in Argentine; to progressive social spending and industrial policy in Brazil. The important thing is to find a basis for long term growth, policy certainty and social stability.

The Swapo Party Youth League advocates for a system that is based on the fundamental proposals that government should put in place the policies to help ensure a thriving economy and the equitable distribution of the national wealth. This should include industrial relations to enable labor and capital to negotiate the specific agreements which would give practical expression to the objective of shared prosperity in the context of an emerging economy.

The opinion expressed in this article does not necessarily reflects the view of SPYL.


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