Strike Disrupts Port Construction

The strike that started Monday involving local workers employed by the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) at Namport precipitated the suspension of 72 workers.

CHEC is involved in the construction of the N$3.9 billion port expansion project at Walvis Bay.

The strike and suspension of at least 72 workers followed after the company apparently fired three workers who expressed their dissatisfaction against the company last week.

This according to workers was despite the fact they brought their grievances to the company through their union representative, the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (MANWU).

By yesterday (Wednesday) the strike had entered its third day at Namport.

Workers said the hire-and-fire practice has become a common practice at CHEC so much so that to date, has dimissed at least 30 construction workers.

They also accuse the company for not adhering to Namibian labour laws.

Dissatisfied workers are currently camping in front of the company premises, situated on the outskirts of Walvis Bay.

Workers accuse the company for unfair labour practices, favouritism, abuse, intimidation and they want these issues addressed before they could return to work. They are also demanding the immediate reinstamnet of their colleagues before they could return to work.

Martin Kapere who spoke on behalf of the workers said that the company is offering Namibian workers a week or month contract, that is apparently being renewed only if the company wants to. He says the company allegedly informs Namibians that they services are no longer required only to hire Chinese people in their positions.

He also said the Chinese receive all the benefits such as transport while they have to walk to work.

“Even the drivers are told not to give us a lift as the company will deduct N$500 from their salaries. That is an insult to us. One of our supervisors is kicking us but we are not allowed to question that as well,” said Kapere.

He also said despite them having different qualifications, they are all employed as general workers.

“Look at our contracts, every month we are signing an amendment to a contract, while we have no contract at all. No one wants to work without job security. We are dedicated to our jobs. We work hard as jobs are scarce. We just want better treatment and respect from our Chinese employers,” he told New Era.

During a brief meeting with the company on Monday, New Era was told the company will only respond to the workers’ grievances received from the union.

Source : New Era