By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek The Board of Directors of the Windhoek Country Club Resort and Casino (WCCR) were expected to meet yesterday morning to pronounce themselves on the industrial action that is currently underway at the local hotel. The industrial strike, which is entering its seventh day today, reached a deadlock after failed negotiations between the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) and WCCR management. The union accused the WCCR management of failing to take serious decisions to resolve the dispute while WCCR maintained that they had no mandate from their board of directors to meet the workers’ demands. The President of the NUNW, Alpheus Muheua, said he was assured by the Chairperson of the WCCR Board of Directors, Sven Thieme, on Sunday that the board would meet but noted that he had not been briefed about the outcome of the meeting. The Secretary General of the NUNW, Evilastus Kaaronda, criticized the Namibian government for taking a silent position on the dispute. Kaaronda said government as the major shareholder should have been proactive but instead appears to be unwilling to listen. He questioned the government’s decision to deploy armed police at the hotel. “What threat is the workers to the country that such heavily armed police should be monitoring them?” The secretary general claimed the intention of the Namibian government is to intimidate the workers. “The government is not prepared to listen but rather to intimidate the workers.” He claimed that the workers are responsible citizens and there is no need for such a huge presence of armed police officials. Meanwhile, lawyers representing the WCCR yesterday withdrew an urgent application in the Windhoek High Court. The application was meant to force the striking workers to move 30 meters away from the entrance of the hotel. The Secretary General of the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau), Kiros Sackarias, told New Era that the union was ready to oppose the application but was informed by the lawyer representing the WCCR that he had been instructed by his client to withdraw the application. Since the strike started last week Wednesday at the four-star hotel, tension has been rising. The tension was further fuelled by the failed negotiations between Nafau and the hotel management. The situation last week Wednesday evening almost reached a climax and there was near physical confrontation between the striking employees and members of the Special Field Force (SFF). After the failed talks, the management of the hotel requested the SSF to move the striking employees 30 meters from the entrance of the hotel, but the workers refused to budge. The striking workers despite refusing to move were threatening to enter the hotel and to overnight at the entrance. At one point, the SSF was ready to forcefully move the striking employees and started to put on gas masks to protect themselves in case they used teargas against the strikers. An ambulance was also called to the scene. But the striking employees were not intimidated by the SSF and in return wet their T-shirts to protect themselves from teargas should it have been used. However, the confrontation was brought to a halt after news filtered through that a minister had called and said the workers should be allowed to overnight at the premises. The workers have been sleeping and cooking in front of the entrance despite the rainy conditions over the last few days.
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