Cheetah Cement withdraws offers made to striking employees

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Cheetah Cement has withdrawn all benefits proposed to employees during salary negotiations, which have reached a deadlock.

The management of the Cheetah Cement factory, situated outside Otjiwarongo in the Otjozondjupa Region, announced the decision on Tuesday.

General Manager (GM) Kevin Lee told Nampa in a telephonic interview Wednesday that the withdrawal of the offers was necessitated by revenue losses the company continues to suffer as a result of the strike, which started on 21 July 2022.

Lee said in May this year the company proposed an increase of N.dollars 800 for employees earning less than N.dollars 6 000, while those who earn above N.dollars 6 000 were offered an increase of N.dollars 500, which they did not accept.

He stated that the company management also proposed the introduction of a pension fund that would have started in January 2023, and the introduction of a medical aid scheme with a contribution of 80 per cent by the company, but this was rejected by employees as well.

“The company has suffered losses of more than N.dollars 10 million, which makes it impossible to introduce any salary increase, pension or housing allowance,” he said.

He however stated that the medical aid proposal still stands.

The withdrawal was officially announced to employees at a meeting held on Tuesday at the labour commissioner’s office in Otjiwarongo.

Mineworkers’ Union of Namibia (MUN) representative Nafital Nghipitwako, who attended the meeting, told this press agency the news was disheartening for employees.

“That’s not what we want to hear. We will not go back to Cheetah Cement as long as there is no improved salary, housing allowance and pension fund, or proper medical aid,” he charged, adding that the cost of living is high.

He said workers at Cheetah Cement earn about N.dollars 3 600 and do not have medical aid or pension benefits, while the housing allowance is not sufficient. They have allegedly also not received a salary increase for about four years.

The factory is largely owned by Chinese investors and employs just over 200 Namibians and more than 40 Chinese nationals.

Source: The Namibian Press Agency