Swapo's Chinese contractors get slap on the wrist

07 February 2020 | Labour

Chinese nationals at the construction site of the new Swapo headquarters in Katutura are to receive training on the provisions of the Labour Act and no criminal charges have been laid following an altercation in which a Namibian worker was allegedly assaulted.

The altercation occurred when a worker of Unik Construction Namibia was allegedly assaulted by five Chinese nationals after he had refused to execute an order given by a Chinese foreman.

The incident occurred last week Friday when the construction worker, known as Teacher, was dragged into the site office and allegedly assaulted by the five, at which point Teacher's colleagues intervened and stopped the alleged assault from continuing.

The incident brought construction work to a standstill until Monday morning when the Metal and Allied Workers Union (Manwu) and the principal agent approved to oversee the project, Jack Mutwa, came to an agreement.

Workers at the site claimed that they were not being treated in line with the Labour Act, while Chinese foremen hired and fired workers at will.





The workers further claimed victimisation at the hands of their Chinese overseers.

Manwu secretary-general Justina Jonas says it was agreed that the Chinese foremen would be brought up to speed on the Labour Act. “The workers are back at work. Their safety and security have been guaranteed while a notice to terminate some employees has been cancelled,” Jonas said. Further, the Chinese nationals involved in Friday's altercation would undergo an induction course, she indicated.

“So far, we are comfortable to allow them to go back to allow work to continue,” said Jonas.

A local human resources officer was also appointed for the workers to go to if they had grievances, she said.

“We will take them through the Labour Act to help them understand how things are done in Namibia,” Jonas said.

According to her, this was regularly done in the construction industry to mend relations between Chinese firms and local construction workers.

Commenting on the criminal charges Teacher had planned to bring against the Chinese nationals who had assaulted him, Jonas said the union and Unik Construction had agreed to bring everyone involved in the altercation before a disciplinary hearing.

“Our legal minds will be defending Teacher,” Jonas said.

OGONE TLHAGE

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