Namibia: Road Workers Ordered to Stop Striking

Construction workers of a Chinese-owned company, employed for the expansion of the Gibeon-Tses Road, who downed tools earlier this month, have been ordered by the court to resume duty.

High Court Judge Harald Geier on Friday interdicted employees of China Henan International Cooperation Group (Pty) Ltd (Chico), represented by Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (MANWU) and supported by Michael Amushelelo and political party Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF), from continuing with the strike.

The court also ordered the workers to return to work and carry on with their duties as stipulated by their work contracts until their labour dispute, which was launched by their employer with the Labour Commissioner, is resolved.

Approximately 371 construction workers downed tools on 5 May after their employer was allegedly unresponsive to their grievances expressed in April’s petition.

The workers are demanding better working conditions, such as improved salaries, availability of accommodation and potable water at Asab camp as well as the implementation of safety guidelines.

They further claim they have no job security, as they are threatened daily.

As a result of their strike, their employer filed an urgent application for an interdict, citing the strike as illegal.

Cui Yunke, the managing partner of Chico, said the strike came out of nowhere.

According to him, employees, through their union, informed them they would host a peaceful demonstration on 12 April, where they would hand over a petition.

However, on 5 May, the employees gathered and indicated they would not continue to work.

They also indicated they are no longer represented by MANWU but by Amushelelo and NEFF.

He said efforts to resolve the matter amicably proved futile.

According to him, the illegal strike is costly to the company, as the construction work is not going ahead and on schedule.

“The applicant is losing N$366 666 daily as a result of the ongoing illegal strike,” said Yunke.

The contract stipulates that they will be penalised N$20 000 daily for late completion.

The N$550 million project was awarded to Chico, and it makes provision for the widening of the B1 road between Mariental and Keetmanshoop in one of its stages.

Amushelelo, who has been sympathising with aggrieved workers, is currently in police custody after he was arrested for the Chinatown protest on 13 April.

The forex trader-turned-politician 12 May took to Chinatown to shut down the businesses while claiming they too sell goods that are similar to the ones that were regarded as counterfeit by NamRA.

Amushel elo, alongside Af f i rmat ive Repositioning’s Dimbulukeni Nauyoma, is awaiting bail judgment today in the Katutura Magistrate’s Court.

The pair were arrested with six other people, who have since been released on warning.

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