ASAB - Workers on the B1 road upgrade project between Tses and Gibeon downed tools late last week, saying their employer’s unresponsiveness to their grievances is the main reason for striking.
Mathew Maseka, a heavy machinery operator at the road rehabilitation and construction project, who is also the spokesperson of the aggrieved employees, said they were forced to embark on the wildcat strike after repeated complaints to management regarding unfair labour practices remained unresolved.
“We submitted various petitions through the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers’ Union (MANWU), but neither they nor our employers could provide feedback until now,’’ he added.
Maseka said China Henan International Cooperation Group (Chico) late last year decided to increase their working hours from 180 to 195 hours without their consent and input.
“On top of that, they decided that Saturday overtime will now be treated as normal working hours, and they will compensate us by giving us a weekend off to travel to our families,” he continued.
Some workers reside in the north, making it impossible to travel and visit their families within two days due to the distances.
‘’What is also disheartening is that we do not receive any benefits like leave, pension, medical aid or housing subsidy/rent allowance while we have to rent accommodation from homeowners in Tses and Gibeon, as such facilities are not available in Asab,” said Maseka.
He was adamant that the strike will continue until such time that their problems are solved amicably.
Hardap regional council chairperson Gershon Dausab assured the workers that the regional council is dealing with the matter.
“I can only advise you to put all your grievances in writing and submit it to your union, or you can alternatively choose another one if not happy on how they are dealing with your grievances,” he noted.
Dausab also reminded them that their strike was illegal as due processes were not followed.
“It is better to first engage Chico’s management, and create an ideal platform where you can sit around the table and find solutions,” he added.
A meeting has been scheduled between Chico management, employees, union representatives and the Hardap regional leadership for today to iron out all issues at hand.
The N$550 million project was awarded to Chico, and makes provision for the widening of the B1 road between Mariental and Keetmanshoop in one of its stages.