Strike Paralyses Hotel’s Business Operations

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By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek The strike at the Windhoek Country Club Resort that started early yesterday morning at six o’clock had paralysed some of the operations of the hotel by day end. The industrial strike when it kicked off did not immediately affect the operations of the hotel as the staff, who knock off at six in the morning, had already prepared breakfast for the guests. Management had also hired casual workers to serve the guests. However, the early effects of the strike started to be felt two hours later as the close to 200 employees toyi-toyed and sang freedom songs in front of the main entrance to the hotel. This interfered with the free movement of visitors at the hotel. The situation became slightly better after members of the Special Field Force (SFF) were called in to keep the striking workers a distance from the main entrance. As the day progressed with no solution in sight, more operations at the hotel started to suffer, such as the Casino. A manager at the Casino informed New Era that most of the casuals who were only recruited on Monday were not familiar with the operations of most gambling machines in the Casino. “Some do not even know the name of the drinks that are being ordered and some customers have started complaining already.” The manager added that Room Service was not working because most of the chefs were on strike, with the remaining three were working at the restaurant. The General Manager at Windhoek Country Club Resort Toni Boucher said his company had reciprocated by delivering a notice of a defensive lockout whereby the members of the bargaining unit will be ‘locked out’ from the company. Boucher said the striking employees would only be allowed to return to work when they accept the company offer. The Union is demanding a salary increase of N$145 across the board and a housing allowance of N$100 back-dated from March 01, while the company is only offering a N$100 salary increase and N$60 back-dated for four months. Boucher maintains that the offer, which represents an increase of 7.5%, is in line with not only the industry, but is also far in excess of inflation and is therefore reasonable under the current financial circumstances. He said the demand by the Union, which represents 11.9%, is unreasonable. The GM also accused the Union of making threats to the company if they use temporary employees other than current employees. “The company has taken note of the verbal and written threats by the General Secretary of the Union, takes them seriously indeed and has notified the appropriate authorities who will be ready and willing to assist where necessary to ensure that such threats do not become a reality.” Boucher noted that the threats were not new to the company and clearly showed that the Union was not interested in good faith negotiations and rather viewed the negotiation process as a mere formality to be complied with before instituting industrial action. “The Union knows very well that neither the company, the employees nor the patrons of the Windhoek Country Club Resort will benefit from this action.”