Hotel Workers to Strike

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By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek Tension is mounting at the Windhoek Country Club Resort (WCCR) where 260 workers are threatening to go on an industrial strike tomorrow unless the management meets their demands. The Namibian Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau), which is the biggest workers’ representative body, on Friday announced that its members would go on strike tomorrow morning at 6:30 because the WCCR management had pushed the workers to the limit. The Secretary General of Nafau, Kiros Sackarias, said he was saddened by the continuously negative attitude of the hotel management towards its employees, which is not aimed at promoting the well-being of both the employer and employees, but rather makes life difficult for everyone. The secretary general, who last week led a successful strike at Ramatex, said the wages and conditions-of-employment negotiations between the hotel and Nafau this year were of the longest and protracted ever. He noted that the dispute resolution procedures were correctly followed and have now been exhausted as per the Labour Act. “The company was given more than one chance to reconsider its rigid position in order to accommodate the workers’ demands.” Sackarias also complained about the decision of WCCR management to use labour consultants during the negotiations. “Our relationship with the hotel is now under strain and the way forward is to look seriously at the benefits of having a labour consultant as the front person of the company’s negotiating team.” Sackarias, who previously worked for the hotel before becoming an office-bearer at Nafau, said that the worrying factor about the whole issue is that the same hotel due to the same negative attitude of the hotel management and their labour consultant experienced a strike last year November. “Why should we allow what once used to be the oasis of Windhoek to suffer at the hands of some people’s indifference?” Sackarias said the workers have been now waiting without an increase for eight months and are demanding that the increase be backdated to March 2006. The original demand of the workers was a N$300 increase on salary and N$300 on housing, while the offer from the hotel was zero. After the negotiations the workers are willing to accept an N$150 salary increase and N$100 for housing, while the management is only willing to offer N$100 on salary and N$50 for housing. Sackarias said the hotel has not given them any reason why they do not want to meet the workers’ demands despite the fact that they have increased the salaries of the management twice already this year. He also warned that because the industrial action will be legal, Nafau would not tolerate an attempt by the hotel to recruit casual workers while the other workers are on strike. He concluded that because WCCR is partly owned by the Namibian Government, he expected the management to be more understanding to the workers’ demands.