The Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (MANWU) has accused Salini – the Italian company contracted to construct the multi-billion dollar Neckartal Dam in the south – of frustrating workers to delay construction.
“We have noticed that Salini and Rivoli management are delaying the project themselves by frustrating the workers to enable them to have excuses not to finish the project on time,” said the union’s general secretary, Jastina Jonas.
In a letter to the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Jonas said recent media reports that Rivoli management – a company subcontracted by Salini SpA – was planning to retrench close to 200 employees are part of the said delaying tactics.
“MANWU will not allow the blame to be put on the workers’ shoulders, because management is mandated to ensure that they have a well-organised force with little grievances,” she said in the letter. Jonas said the local union branch and shopstewards received numerous complaints from Salini and Rivoli workers, and once raised, their complaints always take months to be resolved by management.
“The Rivoli issue was a surprise to us. The union was never given any notice or sign that there would be a massive termination of contracts,” Jonas said. According to her, the union wrote an email to Salini and Rivoli on Wednesday after several failed attempts to reach them by phone, seeking an urgent meeting so that they can be informed of what is happening on the labour front.
“To date, as we write this letter, we have not received any response from Salini and Rivoli,” the outspoken unionist wrote. She further said it must be noted that some workers nearly went on Christmas holiday without pay, as apparently there was no money to pay them:
“It must also be noted that some of the workers never got paid their monthly December salary, as well as service allowances, as stipulated in the MANWU/CIF collective agreement.”
According to Jonas, Rivoli has an outstanding labour dispute lodged by the union in December, which has not yet been dealt with by the Office of the Labour Commissioner, as no concilliation process was initiated. “We made several follow-ups and only now we are told that the date of the dispute [hearing] is set for the 22nd of this month,” she said, adding that this delay was not in line with the Labour Act, which stipulates that a dispute must be resolved within 30 days.