City cleaners demand permanent employment

Home National City cleaners demand permanent employment
City cleaners demand permanent employment

Maihapa Ndjavera

City of Windhoek ward contractors on Monday embarked on a demonstration demanding better working conditions. Workers are further demanding permanent employment as many of them have been working on a contract basis from as far back as 1990. 

The scope of services rendered by the ward contractors include sweeping of road surfaces, cleaning of streets, road reserves and open spaces. They also deal with cleaning of stormwater catch pits and culverts, issuing of black bags to all households in informal settlements, collection of all household refuse in the informal settlements as well as emptying all pole refuse and street bins. 

These employees usually work on six-month contracts.

An estimated 500 employees participated in the demonstration.  However, the City of Windhoek officials stood firm that the demonstration is illegal and as such, they would not collect any petition from the workers. 

When called for comment, city spokesperson Harold Akwenye called the demonstration illegal, saying the city would not entertain illegal gatherings. 

“We were not formally informed to receive any petition from anyone.  As it stands, the strike is illegal and us receiving that will be legalising the demonstration. They should just follow the right channels,” said Akwenye.

He added that employees staying away from work means they are being marked absent from their duty points.

Meanwhile, spokesperson for the striking workers Benda Immanuel, vowed they will not move from the premises until a city official receives their petition. Immanuel added they have been receiving about N$3 300 as a salary for years with no benefits.

“We are not moving from here. They should come down and hear our cry. Whether the demonstration is illegal or legal, we will not move. We are crying of low salaries and yet the police are asking us to pay them N$400 to grant us the letter. Now where will we get that?” asked Immanuel.

He added that their salaries fail to meet their personal needs as family men and women, and it is, therefore, imperative the city listens to them and acts accordingly.

According to Immanuel, the demonstrating workers are no longer dealing with unions due to a lack of trust in the organised entities.

“This is our sixth petition. We tried with the unions but nothing came out of it, so, we are taking this in our own hands. Management received our previous petitions and no action was taken,” he stated.

Immanuel continued that a case was also laid with the labour commissioner on their grievances which is expected to be heard on 27 February 2023.