Swapo enters Cheetah Cement fray

13 January 2021 | Labour



Swapo’s Otjiwarongo branch has entered a labour dispute involving Cheetah Cement and its employees after calling for a meeting to hear from those affected.

The decision to enter the squabble, its coordinator Imms Namaseb said, was to avoid a situation where the party could lose members who felt that it was not sympathetic to their concerns, as well as to illustrate to employees of the plant that the party was interested in the professional well-being of its members.

A meeting between employees and Swapo is scheduled for tomorrow, 14 January, a notice released by the branch indicated.

“We want them to know that we are there with them. We are mindful not to interfere. I want the parties to come to one table. Swapo will not abandon you; we don’t want people to be exploited,” Namaseb said.

Mass exodus fears

According to Namaseb, an ideal outcome would be for the issues to be ironed out between Cheetah Cement and its employees.

“We as a party would like to know what the issue is. We are looking at the issue as some are Swapo members. We don’t want to play a mediating role; we will tell our members if they are wrong if they are wrong,” he said.

The other decision for the party’s involvement was to avoid a situation where it lost voters because it had not reacted proactively to issues its members were being subjected, he explained. Namaseb said the party’s leadership in Otjiwarongo was determined not to see voters siding with opposition parties as was the case in the Erongo Region as a consequence of the Fishrot corruption scandal.

Unfair labour conditions

Workers speaking under anonymity told Namibian Sun that the mines ministry had failed them despite various attempts to ensure an amicable solution to the problems they were facing.

“The key issue is that our recognition agreement we signed is not being honoured. The Chinese workers have better working conditions,” they said telephonically.

Another issue of concern to the employees was that they get housing subsidies as low as N$60 per month, while employees claimed that they were being paid a maximum of N$2 000 in some categories despite being skilled and holding suitable qualifications.