Striking cleaners give CoW deadline

Martin Endjala

Aggrieved City of Windhoek cleaners who weeks ago took to the streets to demand salary increments say they have given the municipality until the 15th of March to respond to their demands, failure of which they will embark on another strike.

Their demands are contained in a petition handed over last Wednesday. The group’s Spokesperson Mbenda Immanuel said they want better salaries to live dignified lives as Namibians living in a democratic country.

In addition, the workers are demanding N$250 for medical aid, as they are reportedly exposed to hazardous elements. A majority of the employees are street cleaners. They also want to benefit from the Retirement Fund for Local Authorities and Utility Services in Namibia (RFLAUN). They believe they too have the right to own a house after many years of service. They are further demanding housing allowance, danger allowance, overtime allowance, health and safety training, psycho-social support, as well as transport allowances, amongst others, according to the petition.

Immanuel insists that the group has, on numerous occasions demanded for these allowances but to no avail.

He revealed that the group is prepared to strike even if it means they might have to sacrifice their salaries under the Labour Act provision of “no work no pay”.

“We have been pleading with them for many years now. Some people left this job and some came in and still no changes. This is 2023 and we want it to be the year we finally get our demands fulfilled. If not, we will continue with our plans of striking”, Immanuel warned.

Meanwhile, the City of Windhoek Communications Officer, Lydia Amutenya, confirmed that they received the petition and deliberations on the matter are said to be ongoing. She stated that they will pronounce themselves on the matter, after negotiations are concluded.

She, however, has not given a timeline as to when to expect the employers to respond.

The workers earlier last month also demanded permanent employment for all contract workers. They currently earn N$ 3500, which they say is not sufficient to sustain their livelihoods, given the current inflation and global economic recession.

In the same week, tensions flared as the demonstrators emptied waste bins in the Windhoek Central business District (CBD), prompting police officers to arrest three of the city’s employees, Immanuel included, as well as Michael Amushelelo, a forex trader turned social activist.

The group has since been released on bail on condition that they are not arrested on similar charges.

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