Guards’ Strike: Govt Blamed

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By Hoandi !Gaeb MARIENTAL More than a week after downing tools, around sixty security guards from Njangula Security Company guarding clinics, hospitals and other government buildings at Mariental are still on strike. The guards went on strike early last week because the firm employing them has been unable to pay their salaries caused by delays through late payments for services rendered to the Ministry of Health and Social Services, and Agriculture, Water and Forestry. There is concern that there is a big risk of theft occurring at the unguarded health facilities and the property belonging to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry. Concerned workers at the two government departments say the situation should not be allowed to continue as dangerous chemicals and expensive equipment might be stolen from the premises that remain unguarded because of the ongoing strike. The clinics and hospitals affected by the strike involving guards from Njangula Security Company are located at Mariental, MaltahÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¶he, Gibeon, Stampriet, Gochas, Hoachanas and Kalkrand in the Hardap Region, as well as the offices of the Ministry of Agriculture. A senior security employee said the guards have not received their salaries for three months because the government ministries have not honoured the invoices issued by Njangula Security Company. The company depends on this money to pay its workers. Felix Mukupi, the com-pany’s owner, has appealed to striking guards to be patient because the delays in the payment of their salaries are a result of ministries not realising the money for services already rendered by his company. He also said the demand by a representative of the Namibia Transport and Allied Workers Union (NATAWU) for his company to implement a minimum wage structure to around N$1000 per guard from the previous N$600 has made matters worse. Mukupi says he is not against the minimum prescribed wage, but the fact that it came at a time when he had already completed budget costing for the company and that the amount tendered remained the same without an increase to cater for the proposed wage increment. He says this demand may result in retrenchments. He blamed some government employees for the predicament in which his company finds itself saying inefficiency by some officials contributed to delays in the payments. Mukupi says the amounts being paid to Njangula for the tenders are inadequate for 24-hour shifts and that in future the Government should take cognisance of the fact that Njangula is compelled to use its own money to make the 24-hour shifts possible. New Era was unable to get any of the government officials to comment on the delays.

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