Eveline de Klerk
WALVIS BAY - National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) vice president Phillip Munenguni has lashed out at labour ministry officials, accusing them of being mere “salary collectors” while turning a blind eye to the suffering of workers employed in the fishing and mining industries.
During a media briefing at Walvis Bay this week, Munenguni said the two sectors were among the biggest contributors to the country gross domestic product, but working conditions were not good for workers.
He then appealed to government to urgently address employment conditions of all workers, threatening a nationwide demonstration if urgent steps are not taken.
“We do not want to destabilise the country; however, if no changes are made in the working conditions and employment contracts of workers, as well as the overall working conditions of employees, we shall resort to a mass demonstration until our demands are met,” he said.
According to Munenguni, thousands of workers in the two industries are subjected shamelessly to unsociable working conditions that permanently keep them in poverty, while management and shareholders smile all the way to the bank.
“How is it possible that we have a ministry of labour here in Erongo but the conditions of employment and overall living conditions of workers are yet to improve? No wonder we have unhappy youth and employees. It is because we are doing nothing to their misery, while millions of dividends are paid to shareholders,” he said.
He claimed many companies in these industries have not aligned themselves with the conditions of the Labour Act.
As a result, he said, some workers have no access to medical aid, pension or housing benefits.
“It is time that government, along with unions, fishing and mining industry shareholders and management have roundtable discussions to come up with solutions that will provide better working conditions and salaries to our workers. We need to clean out this mess. Companies should be held accountable and none should be allowed to leave without giving workers what is due to them,” he said.