FMD workers threaten to down tools

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Ongwediva

About 250 casual workers employed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry in the fight against foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) have threatened to down tools on grounds they have not been paid their wages since June.

The group is now camping in Outapi in the Omusati Region, where they concluded a vaccination campaign last Saturday. The group said they would remain put and not proceed to Oshana, where they are expected to resume duty on Wednesday, until their demands are met.

Workers said that most of them have not been paid their wages since they started with the campaign in May, while a few received their June salaries.

They also want to be paid overtime and what they term a ‘camping allowance’.

Furthermore, the group also want their pay rate to be upgraded from the N$80 they get daily to at least N$600.
The casual workers complained that they are exposed to harsh conditions at crush pens and at camp sites, with no supporting camp items such as mobile toilets or bathrooms.

They allege that their permanent colleagues in the ministry “who enjoy the shade”, while they have to endure the scorching heat, are paid a N$600 daily allowance and weekend and public holiday allowances.

“We work odd hours, from seven in the morning to seven or eight in the evening, and we also work during weekends and public holidays. We just want to be compensated fairly,” said Leonard Hamunyela, who spoke on behalf of the group.

In addition, they cannot afford food to sustain themselves, say the group.

“We go to bed hungry because we have no food. At one point our permanent colleagues donated food to us. It is not that we do not want to work, we just want the ministry to take care of us,” said Hamunyela.

The casual workers are contracted to vaccinate cattle and monitor the movement of cattle and animal products.

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