Chinese construction company accused of unfair labour practice

OKAMBEBE: Employees of China Gezhouba Investments Group Namibia are accusing the company’s management of subjecting them to forced HIV, tuberculosis and malaria tests.

The company started upgrading the 98 kilometre Omafo-Outapi road to bitumen standard in October last year and has so far employed 170 local people.

It came to light during a meeting between the workers and the Namibia Building Workers’ Union (NABWU) at Okambebe village in the Ohangwena Region on Friday that the company took four female workers to a private doctor at Ongwediva a few months ago to undergo tests.

One of the workers tested positive for one of the three diseases. The company management has since removed her from the kitchen where she used to prepare food, and she now works as a cleaner.

The company’s project manager Weisong Du and his assistant Weizheng Kong confirmed on Saturday that four women were taken to a doctor to be tested.

“It is practice in China that a person working in a food preparation space like a kitchen has to be tested for communicable diseases so that they do not put the health of the people receiving the food at risk,” they said.

The duo also admitted that one of the workers was removed from the kitchen after she tested positive for a disease.

They pointed out that she was not fired and is now working as a cleaner. They further stated that the four workers agreed to being tested and were not forced to do so.

The workers, who asked not to be named, told Nampa they agreed to being tested as they feared losing their jobs.

“We are shocked to learn about it and if it is true that the workers in question were forced into such a test, it will not end here,” NABWU Secretary-General Victor Hamunyela said when approached for comment during Friday’s meeting.

Hamunyela said his trade union would take legal action against the company once it is proven that the workers were forced into being tested.

“It is a blunder and violation of human rights. These kinds of foreign employers need to be deported,” he said.
The company is upgrading the Omafo-Outapi road at a cost of more than N.dollars 720 million.