Political leaders from the Otjozondjupa region have expressed dissatisfaction over non-compliance with labour standards by some employers in the region, saying some farmworkers, charcoal producers and security guards were experiencing unpleasant working conditions.
The dissatisfaction was expressed during a stakeholders’ consultative meeting with labour minister Utoni Nujoma, the ministry’s executive director Bro-Matthew Shinguadja, labour inspectors and other senior officials last week in Otjiwarongo.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss issues of labour concerns in the region.
“We are here, in a consultative process, to listen to your issues and challenges. This region is an important economic region that is big on beef and charcoal exports. We felt that we have neglected the region a little”, expressed Nujoma during the meeting.
During the meeting, the stakeholders listed poor and inhumane treatment of workers by their employers, low salaries, unconducive working environment, lack of protective gears and unfair treatment of workers in the workplace as some of the challenges that workers are experiencing in the region.
Omatako constituency councillor Israel Hukura proposed that the ministry conducts outreach programmes to his constituency to inspect and investigate the challenges that farmworkers are experiencing at the hands of their employers.
“My constituency has the highest number of farms in the region; go there and see things as they happen on the ground,” he requested.
Councillor for Okakarara Ramana Mutjavikua requested the ministry to establish an office in Okakarara to help address some of the pertinent issues facing workers.
He further urged the ministry to inspect the issue of illegal immigrants, saying there is a high number of them in his constituency, which makes them vulnerable to cheap labour. A representative from the Mineworkers Union of Namibia urged the Ministry to be proactive and put in more efforts in inspecting labour issues and resolving labour grievances, stating workers are experiencing hardships in their workplaces and the culprits are not being punished.
“For example, just go to Cheetah Cement; the situation there is bad. Workers there are being harassed, abused and mistreated. Some even think of suicide at some point. The situation there is so bad and it needs government’s intervention as soon as possible,” he said.
On his part, Shinguadja promised investigations into the cases reported during the meeting.
He also reassured the meeting of the ministry’s commitment and dedication towards effective and efficient service delivery in Otjozonjupa.
“We would, however, like to urge the public to submit names of our officials who are not doing their job accordingly in order to allow for a quicker and easier reprimanding of such officials,” said Shinguadja.
Otjozondjupa Regional Council chairperson Marlayn Mbakera also encouraged the ministry to redouble its efforts in fighting labour matters.
“Let us all be proactive and reach out to the people so that they know their rights,” she said.