Employees of Parishi Diamond, an Indian-owned diamond polishing company, are accusing the company of various grievances, including exploitation, unfair treatment, ritual practices and low wages.
A group of casual workers yesterday went on a wildcat strike in support of their representative, who was allegedly dismissed for voicing their concerns.
The workers say they endured years of suffering in silence until they convened a meeting last month to share their hardships.
The company’s secretary, Monica Hiskia, took the matter up with the management, resulting in her being informed not to report to work.
She believes this action was taken in retaliation for her advocacy against the company's alleged mistreatment.
Hiskia expressed their frustration, stating: “We have been suffering in silence because of unlawful treatment from our management – and on so many occasions, we have tried taking up the issues; however, we never received support”.
Among their complaints, Hiskia said the company prohibits workers from bringing food from home, while “the Indians” in management bring their own food.
They demand the right to bring their own food to work due to dissatisfaction with the provided meals.
Additionally, workers are discontented with their low wages, with Hiskia explaining, “We have a basic salary of N$1 500, but that’s not what we are getting.
Some receive N$1 200, N$1 300 and so forth. We have been pleading with them to address this issue, considering the challenging economic conditions and the financial responsibilities many of us bear”.
According to workers, some of whom have been on contracts for years, after they voiced their grievances, they were asked to sign new one-month contracts, even before the previous ones had expired.
One worker shouted from the crowd: “Usually, our contracts are for four months – but after we complained, we were made to sign new one-month contracts”.
Ritual practices by Indian colleagues in the workplace have also raised concerns among employees.
Hiskia commented, “There are bowls in every toilet – and sometimes we find water. We don’t understand what that’s for, and they also practice their rituals openly at work, which makes us uncomfortable because we also have our religions, but we don’t practice them at work”.
When approached, the company declined to comment on the matter.
Parishi Diamond’s human resource practitioner Lisa Iitula stated, “We don’t have a comment at the moment”.
When New Era visited the company, Iitula instructed the workers to leave the premises, explaining that the contract issue was being addressed by management and that a response was expected today.
The workers are represented by the Mineworkers Union of Namibia, which also plans to communicate its position after a meeting with management today.
Disgruntled…Workers at Parishi Diamond company yesterday downed tools.
Photo: Aletta Shikololo