The country’s largest trade union federation, the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), is imploring the government to suspend the operations of the Italian dam construction company Salini S.p.A.
The federation says it is currently swimming under piles of complaints from Salini workers employed on the construction site of the much-hyped Neckartal Dam in the south. Salini is the Italian company contracted to construct the multi-billion-dollar Neckartal Dam, situated 70km west of Keetmanshoop in the Fish River Canyon.
NUNW Secretary General Job Muniaro yesterday accused the company of unfair dismissals and salary discrepancies, among a raft of grievances.
He said that complaints include alleged unfair dismissals of workers who had gone around telling their colleagues of their rights.
Muniaro said he had several consultations with the company management to resolve the outstanding issues, but without any success. “If we as Namibians do not address these issues now it brings unrest in the country. Therefore, I call upon our government to suspend all operations at the company until the issues are resolved,” said Muniaro.
He said that for labour unrest to be controlled, all employers must acknowledge and address the injustices suffered by workers.
“If they stay unaddressed they can turn into uncontrolled labour unrest and into a conflict,” he stressed.
He says most foreign companies believe they are untouchable and this tendency should end. Contacted for comment yesterday, Salini S.p.A. project manager Fabrizio Lazzarin refused to comment.
“As you might know I am not allowed to speak to the media anymore, so I will forward you the number of the person you can speak to,” he said.
Efforts to get comment from a certain Mr Gilles, who according to Lazzarin now deals with the media, was unsuccessful as his Italian number went unanswered.
Last year the company was accused of detaining a group of journalists for more than 30 minutes at its premises.
According to media reports at the time, journalists went to the construction site following a tip-off about alleged illegal smuggling of cigarettes, among others, at the site.
Upon arrival they introduced themselves as journalists and started taking pictures of the people standing around. That is when a man who introduced himself as the “financial manager” approached them and accused them of trespassing.