Chinese Company Losing Heavily During Strike

China Henan International Cooperation (CHICO) is losing about N$375 000 a day due to a strike over health issues by its more than 200 workers building the road between Otjinene in the Omaheke Region and Okondjatu in the Otjozondjupa Region.

This was confirmed by the company’s human resources manager for operations, Elina Kanda, in an interview with New Era yesterday. He said 90 percent of the workforce is on strike.

“We spoke to them to return to work but they refused. They are demonstrating under section 42 of the Labour Act that deals with health and safety issues. That is all they saying, it has nothing to do with salaries,” she said.

Kanda said the company is waiting for a report this week from the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare on whether the workers are really demonstrating over health issues.

Work has since November 1 come to a halt at the government-funded road construction project worth millions of dollars. The road which stretches over 140 kilometres is expected to be completed by 2016.

The workers are demanding that the company comply with all health and safety requirements to avoid injuries and death on the job.

CHICO has been awarded several government tenders to construct roads across the country, including the Okondjatu-Otjinene road currently under construction.

New Era yesterday also spoke to Okakarara Constituency Councillor, Vetaruhe Kandorozu, who confirmed the workers were on strike.

“I had a meeting with the company shop steward and we looked at the safety of workers at the crushing site as well as road construction. We set up a due date as to when these issues should be in place, such as an extra bus so that workers are not transported in overcrowded and open trucks,” he said.

He blamed the company for pushing workers towards downing tools saying “if people don’t have safety then it is CHICO that created the problem”.

The president of the Namibia National Labour Organisation (Nanlo), Evilastus Kaaronda, who earlier travelled to Okondjatu said they had already written a letter about the labour crisis at CHICO to the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Alpheus Muheua, the Labour Commissioner Bro-Mathew Shinguadja and CHICO management.

He singled out 11 injuries and one death which allegedly happened during the construction of the road, mainly due to the company’s failure to adhere to health and safety measures.

Kaaronda said all incidents were reported to the management, but the company did not even avail transport to take injured people to hospital.

Source : New Era