OMUTHIYA – About 30 workers, employed to do work on a government project at Oshivelo in the Oshikoto region, claimed they have not been receiving due salaries for three months now.
The workers are employed by a construction company that is currently building eight veterinary houses at Oshivelo.
However, the workers told New Era they are failing to feed their families, as they have not been paid for the past three months.
Since June, the workers have been scrambling to put food on the table for themselves and their families.
At some point, they claimed, they were advised by the company to take credit for meals from the community and a retail store in the area, but such can no longer be possible, as the debt has ballooned.
The project, estimated at a cost of N$23 million, is for the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform.
The employees of EA Mouton Builders argued they have not received their salaries from the employer for June, July and August. They are now accusing the company of unfair labour practice – and last week, they threatened to down tools if their demands for payment are not met.
One of the senior employees, Peter-John Brandt, who spoke out against the unfair practice, was dismissed at the weekend, after initially receiving a letter, dated 16 September in which he was reportedly charged for breaching contractual obligations. Brandt, however, argued he never signed a contract upon being employed.
He further asserts that the two parties a fortnight ago reached an agreement in which he was to be paid a separation package of N$42 000.
He told New Era he was dismissed for gross misconduct.
“We heard the company was given about N$2 million from government for salaries but we have not received anything; now that we are speaking out, we have to get charged and fired. In the same manner, we have been encouraged to take credit of which we are unable to pay back; how do we survive this? Yet, we are expected to work excessive hours,” fumed another employee under anonymity.
Another worker bemoaned the working conditions, saying they are operating without protective clothing.
Approached for comment last week, company owner Emil Albertus Mouton briefly said before refusing to entertain further question: “… we have not received any funds yet from government; we are still waiting. And it is not true; they are not paid for three months – June was settled.”
The ministry of agriculture is yet to respond to questions emailed to them more than a week ago.