Naute Dam grape workers slam ‘useless’ Nafau

Naute Dam-Grape workers at Naute Dam say the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau), which is supposed to represent their interests, is incompetent as it has dismally been unable to help workers in their quest for better wages and improved working conditions.

The frustrated seasonal grape workers, who work for the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC) Naute Dam irrigation project, said the union has been ineffective in resolving issues, especially those regarding salary increments.

They accused the union of only fighting for the rights of permanent workers, saying the union was able to get an increment for the permanent employees last year, but has not bothered to make an effort to get a salary increment for seasonal workers who earn a mere N$1,600 inclusive of allowances.

The union is toothless � they do not do anything about our complaints. They just sit back and tell us the company does not have money to increase our salaries, said an unhappy worker, who preferred anonymity due to fear of victimisation.

The workers further said the union's Keetmanshoop branch is inactive and does not attend to workers' complaints, adding that the union representatives fail to make the 50km drive to Naute Dam, citing lack of transport, but they say the union always has transport when they want to recruit new members.

I do not know what we are paying for � when you call the union to come and listen to workers' problems, they say they do not have transport, so we have to pay for their transport, but when they want to come recruit new members they have cars all of a sudden, said another worker.

The workers said they also want an increment, as the issue has been dragging on for over three years now, and that they can no longer survive on the N$1,600 they currently receive as it is barely enough to buy basic


They also questioned how all seasonal workers are paid equally, irrespective of how long they have worked for the company, while some questioned why those that have worked for the company for many years still remain seasonal workers.

My parents came here long ago � I was still in primary school � and now I am also here, but they are still seasonal workers and we are getting the same salary, this is unfair, said a concerned worker.

In response to the workers' accusations Nafau's Keetmanshoop branch organiser Rosalia Albert said the union is busy with negotiations with NDC on the increment for seasonal workers.

We gave our proposal to the company in April and we are now waiting for the board of directors to get back to us. We might have a meeting in November to discuss this, she said.

She however rubbished the workers' claims that the union organisers attend to workers' grievances at the expense of the workers, saying the union has cars all over the country that can be used to attend to the workers' problems.

It is not true, they are not telling the truth, but I cannot say much on such issues, she said.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia