Workers Urged to Rethink Going Home

THE Namibian Building Workers Union (Nabwu) says the 20 bricklayers at the Khorixas mass housing project who plan to leave work must think carefully.

Nabwu secretary general Victor Hamunyela said the group must “stay and face the challenges. Where do you want to go from this national project?”

The bricklayers are employed by Guinas Investment, which is contracted by the National Housing Enterprise to construct 181 houses at Khorixas. The construction workers came from Oshana, Ohangwena, Oshikoto and Omusati regions last February.

They were told by Hamunyela that if they go, the company will bring another group and exploit them too.

Hamunyela aised the workers to stay and prevent the company from employing others to replace them.

Hamunyela said Namibians must not be treated like slaves by foreign-owned companies.

Nabwu will also ask the Labour Commission to declare a dispute if Guinas Investment does not pay the workers.

The Namibian was informed that the remaining construction workers who were paid N$60 per day are now paid N$100, a few days after their colleagues downed tools. Hamunyela warned those who are currently working not to only benefit from complaints of the fellow workers who downed tools, but to join them instead.

“Let’s fight for the common interest of all Namibians,” said Hamunyela.

“Nobody is untouchable in Namibia. Even if the President is wrong, I will tell him so,” he said.

He criticised the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Doreen Sioka, for not doing enough for the workers.

“She (Sioka) is the custodian but does not do enough. If nothing is done, we will chase the Chinese out of the country ourselves just as we chased the South African apartheid forces out of Namibia,” Hamunyela warned.

A Chinese interpreter, who identified himself as Bingo, said the workers will be paid by Wednesday 21 January, following a meeting held at the labour ministry’s offices at Khorixas last Thursday.

The bricklayers alleged that the Chinese managers require them to lay 600 to 700 bricks in a day and also order them to plaster an entire house within a day, a practice which they say, amounts to mistreatment.

Communication between the bricklayers and their Chinese employers takes place in sign language since the workers do not understand Mandarin and the Chinese do not understand English.

The Chinese managers sell cement pallets for N$300 each, which are used by the construction workers as beds.

The bricklayers are accommodated at unfinished Build Together Programme houses with no running water or toilets. The spokesperson of the workers said that their working conditions are unbearable.

Source : The Namibian