Mass Housing Workers Lament Starvation Wages

Workers at the Rundu mass housing project are unhappy with the alleged poor working conditions and low salaries paid.

Some 318 houses are being built at the project at Rundu for mass housing worth N$90 million.

The Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (Manwu) Regional Coordinator for Kavango East and Kavango West, Richard Matengu told New Era that employees have brought their grievances to his office and he visited the site and he discovered that workers have no protective clothing.

Another anomaly detected at the project is that workers do not have contracts and are underpaid.

“They have no overalls as well as safety boots for their protection and safety and also have no contracts which can show how much they are supposed to be paid and for how long they will be employed,” Matengu told New Era.

He said the workers are being paid below the minimum prescribed wage for construction workers as some of them are being paid N$8 and N$9 per hour instead of the minimum prescribed wage.

“A labourer should get a minimum of N$13.26 per hour, however that’s not the case at the mass housing project in Rundu, we don’t want cheap labour. The companies must share the wealth with workers accordingly especially in GRN projects said the regional coordinator.

“As a union representing workers we cannot allow employers to pay workers salaries which are below the required minimum wage and not provide them with safety clothing to work with and they are working without contracts,” emphasised Matengu.

When New Era visited the site, workers said most of them commenced duties on the construction site on June 04 this year and since then haven’t been given their employment contracts.

Workers also complained their employers still haven’t supplied them with any protective clothing, be it safety boots, gloves and overalls, and yet they are required to work nine hours a day, six days a week with no overtime payment.

“We are threatened that we will be fired if we report or talk to the media.

“We want to be paid fairly and we want protective clothing, we are working with a risk of being harmed and injured and our employers have not registered us with social security” said a worker on condition of anonimity.

The mass housing project is being executed at Kaisosi informal settlement’s Extension 10 on the eastern outskirts of Rundu. NHE appointed Windhoek-based Green Circle Investment to construct the 318 houses for N$90 million.

The company that secured the tender then subcontracted 4 out of region companies namely Lo-Ammi Trading Construction, Octagon Construction, ETN Technical Services and Nkarapamwe Construction to do the work.

Matengu said he tried to reach the offices of the four firms sub-contracted by Green Circle Investment to build the houses but he has yet to get a positive response.

“It’s only Octagon amongst the subcontracted companies that has responded and said that they will improve their workers’ salaries starting end of September.”

In pursuit of answers New Era further tried to contact the four contractors for comment and again only Octagon Construction was able to respond although the individual who responded refused to provide his name said, “We have been approached by the union (Manwu) and we are going to improve end of September.”

Lo-Ammi Trading Construction, ETN Technical Services and Nkarapamwe Construction could not be reached as their cell phones went unanswered.

Source : New Era