CoW workers demand improved conditions

Martin Endjala

The City of Windhoek’s temporary workers have downed tools, demanding for permanent employment saying that they are tired of working on temporary contracts for over 30 years without benefits and better salaries.

Their monthly salaries are reportedly N$3 300.

The workers are claiming that their employer has been treating them unfairly as they continue to extend their contracts after every six months when their contracts expire.

Their protest began yesterday. Today, they told the media that that they can no longer allow this to go on, as they too, deserve to live decent lives and this can only be possible if they are permanently employed, salaries increased and if they are given the same benefits as that of permanent employees.

Speaking to the Windhoek Observer, the group’s Spokesperson Mbenda Immanuel said that they do not have medical aid to cover for any injuries sustained while on the job, a situation he has cited is “very”worrisome, given alleged injuries workers sustain as a result of working in hazardous zones.

“One of our colleagues was even bitten by a snake and they had to aid themselves since we do not get medical aid. The supposed medical aid given to us as per our payslip is N$200 and it is very little and cannot cover any cost”, said the spokesperson.

Immanuel also claims that a number of supervisors in the City of Windhoek earn their overtime allowance which is equivalent to their salaries.

“Some of them even arrogantly boast about it. Such behaviour is unacceptable and a clear indication that they do not care at all,” he said.

Another issue Immanuel pointed out, was the social security matter, where he alleged that they get deducted but are not registered on the social security system at all, terming it worrisome.

The workers also want to stop being taxed as they are not eligible for tax.

“We are tired, N$3 300 is very little, what can I do with it? I have rent to pay, taxi fares, food, my own children going to school, what do I save up and how can I survive like this? They are busy exploiting us and they keep earning fat cheques while we are the ones working in harsh conditions and yet we are not valued in this place”, Another worker, Sabas Alfredo Kashimbi said on the sidelin.

Furthermore, Kashimbi stated that some of the workers have been working for 20 to more than 30 years now, and their situation has not changed.

The workers commenced with their demonstration yesterday and continued today, seeking to hand in their demand petition to the City of Windhoek, but however, this did not materialize and have vowed not to vacate the area until someone comes out to address them.

According to the workers, both the police and their employer have refused to accept their petition, saying their strike is illegal.

Meanwhile, City of Windhoek Spokesperson Lydia Amutenya said said that no communication was done by the workers that they are planning a demonstration. Their union also did not communicate, she said.

“We where not notified as the city of Windhoek or the council, as per normal circumstances, the workers are supposed to notify us beforehand”, explained Amutenya.

Amutenya also indicated that the matter in question is currently before the court at the Labour commission, which is slated for the 27th and the 28th of February 2022, and thus she cannot comment much on the matter until the court announces itself on the matter. The spokesperson said that the matter is already known to the council committee and that discussions are ongoing as to how to remedy the gathering outside since it is at the entrance of the city of Windhoek.

“The scenery is not good given the gathering and since it is a walkway path for many customers and this needs to be resolved amicably”, she said. The no work no pay law, is also said could be applied should they continue demonstrating,” she said.

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