Namdeb employees forced to sleep at bus stop

Martin Endjala

Namdeb workers at Oranjemund opted to sleep at a bus stop due to exorbitant accommodation fees the company is charging them

The high prices charged for accommodation left the workers with no choice but to vacate their allocated homes.

Landless People’s Movement councillor, Gaume Stephanus of the Rosh Pinah constituency revealed the harsh conditions after the workers briefed him on the situation last week.

Stephanus described the situation as unfair and unjust treatment towards workers at the Daberas Mine who are forced to pay high prices to use accommodation facilities.

“The workers are abandoned at the bus stop with all their luggage without ablution facilities while they still need to go to work while facing these harsh conditions,” he said.

According to him, for a company with a reputable brand that prides itself as a company that cares for its employees is just a hoax, because instead of resolving workers’ grievances amicably following numerous internal efforts, nothing was done to solve the matter.

Stephanus blames Namdeb for allegedly forcing its workers to accept expensive accommodations by stopping the transport to the Daberas Mine. The workers are also deprived of meals as a way to evict them from accommodation facilities.

He further alleged that the company unilaterally changed terms of employment conditions, which he deemed as structural violence and that the company’s actions will not go unchallenged.

The councillor believes it is Namdeb’s responsibility to mine diamonds and not milk money out of its workers, through accommodations. A move he says, is the reason why the company is so reluctant to hand over the facilities to the Town Council.

He is demanding that Namdeb allow employees to occupy accommodation facilities free of charge as it is stipulated in their employment contracts.

He also demands that meals must be arranged for the employees and that they should be allowed free access to the living units without deduction from the salaries until the matter can be resolved amicably.

He also demanded that the terms of employment be discussed with the relevant labour union and in the absence of such negotiations, employment conditions must remain unchanged.

The diamond company was further told to provide clarity as to who owns the facilities and who is benefiting from it.

Contacted for comment on the matter, Namdeb’s Head of Corporate Affairs and Sustainable Impact Pauline Thomas, refused to comment on the matter.

She stated that Namdeb does not discuss or resolve internal matters involving employees in the public domain.

She added that all internal employment matters are dealt with within the ambit of Namdeb policies and platforms provided for in the business.

Meanwhile, the Mine Workers Union of Namibia (MUN) Regional Secretary Hashondali Kakuti, said MUN as an organisation has various structures to deal with workers’ issues in chronological order.

He added that the matter in question, is at a branch level and that the MUN cannot get involved.

“As the Regional structure we encourage and empower branches to take ownership of matters and we only intervene upon invitation as we avoid imposing ourselves on branch duties where internal processes are not exhausted or where our services are not required,” he said.

He said that the union discourages micromanaging of lower structures in any way, form or shape.

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