Threat to down tools at Swapo office construction

03 February 2020 | Labour

Construction workers building Swapo's new N$730 million headquarters will down tools if their demands for a better work environment are not guaranteed, Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (Manwu) secretar-general Justina Jonas has told Namibian Sun.

This follows an incident where a worker of Unik Construction, which won the tender to build the party's new building, was allegedly assaulted by five Chinese nationals last week Friday.

Jonas said the union, Swapo and Unik Construction would have a series of meetings to iron out the issues raised by the workers.

“We have an urgent meeting with the management of Swapo and also with the executive director of the party, Mr Austin Samupwa. That is to give assurance of the safety of the workers. If that is settled, we will allow the workers to go back to site. There will be no work if there is no assurance of that,” she said.

The worker, known among his colleagues as Teacher, was allegedly attacked by the Chinese nationals after he complained when asked to carry out a task.

It is alleged that he was almost dragged into Unik Construction's site office, at which point his colleagues intervened, stopping the altercation.

Teacher then subsequently went to the Katutura police station where he intended to open a case but he changed his mind after union bosses intervened and asked for the matter to be settled without involving the police.

The decision to persuade Teacher to not open a case was motivated by the need for the union and Unik construction to allow both parties to solve grievances the workers had related regarding their work conditions. Further aggravating the matter are claims on the part of the workers who say the company is not compliant with the labour law in terms of paying minimum wages and that the workers were receiving the same salary despite differences in rank and qualifications.

Samupwa referred Namibian Sun to Swapo party secretary-general Sophia Shaningwa when called for comment.

The party's new headquarters are being constructed on the same site that holds its current building.

The party wants the headquarters, opposite the Katutura Intermediate State Hospital along Independence Avenue in Windhoek, to be a modern office complex with a 170-car parking lot.

OGONE TLHAGE

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