No reason to import foreign labourers – EEC

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By Rochelle Neidel

TSUMEB – Employment Equity Commissioner, Vilbard Usiku, says there is no reason for less skilled workers to be brought in from as far as China just to come and lay bricks or work as shop assitants.

Usiku said with the unemployment rate on the increase, it makes no sense that the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration should grant work permits to foreign labourers that come under the pretext that they have specialised skills that are not available in the local labour market.

“The law is very clear to employers to exhaust all avenues before considering foreigners to come and work in the country. That law must be honoured, you must really not find the skills you want in the country to consider bringing someone from another country. I mean, there are so many Chinese that come to Namibia just to become shop assistants or bricklayers. Do you want to tell me there are Namibians who cannot do that?” rhetorically asked the employment equity commissioner.

Usiku made the statement during an interview on the findings of the Employment Equity Commission’s investigations into the alleged employment of Indians at the expense of suitably qualified Namibians by Murray and Roberts, a firm contracted by Dundee Precious Metals Tsumeb for the construction of the N$3 billion acid plant.

Lyndon Gloag, Project Manager of Murray and Roberts, said the company employed more locals than foreigners and that due to the complex nature of the project, they saw it fit to bring in foreigners.

“When we came, there was no skilled base of workers and we pumped over a million dollars into training about 1 300 locals, while employing over 900 locals compared to 300 foreigners,” he said.

Usiku said although the company had advertised jobs in the newspapers, the conclusion of his report was that there was not enough done to give opportunities to locals to get these jobs.

“I understand this company employed people even before they advertised and the law is very clear on such acts. Companies should not give preference to foreigners simply because they feel Namibians are not skilled. They were very quick to import foreigners,” reiterated Usiku.

He further noted that the EEC held successful discussions with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration to look into the awarding of work permits and find amicable solutions to avoid situations where locals are deliberately overlooked when jobs are allocated.

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