Various traditional leaders joined the workers striking at Neckartal dam, showing their dismay and frustration towards Salini Namibia, the main contractor of the N$2.4 billion dollar project.
The workers locked the main gate with a padlock, preventing suppliers from delivering goods to the project site for the dam, while none of the buses carrying workers, and other vehicles, could proceed beyond the gate, bringing production to a standstill for the second consecutive day.
Bethanie Nama Chief David Frederick and various senior traditional leaders of various traditional authorities joined the striking workers on Tuesday to show their solidarity and encourage workers to be steadfast until their demands are met.
Lazarus Kairabeb, the secretary general of the Nama Traditional Leaders Association, stated that the association is fully behind the workers fighting for their rights.
He stated that the association stands with the workers in its quest for economic emancipation of the people of the south and to ensure that people of the south participate in the mainstream economic activities taking place in the region.
Kairabeb indicated it is clear that logic and truth between the workers and Salini have sharply diminished, adding that persistent lies and falsehoods seem to be the basis of daily interaction between employer and employees, which has gotten to a level where it can no longer be tolerated and striking is the only option.
“The situation seems to have reached unimaginable levels, which is currently expressed in the strike that brings the plight of workers to the attention of other stakeholders,” he said.
He urged workers to fight for a genuine cause, saying it’s unacceptable that the company and managers can do as they please, while workers also have rights as stipulated by Namibian laws.
“If you allow Salini to do with you what they want, then why can’t you do what you want with them?” he asked as he addressed workers.
He further outlined the importance of a good relationship between the two parties, saying that aggression needs to be lessened, and issues need to be resolved before all the parties can move forward.
“One day there will be a day when people will take knives and stab each other and then we will run into trouble,” he said, adding that it is necessary that Salini understands that aggressive and retrogressive behaviour must come to end.
In a petition handed to the management on Monday, the striking workers accused the company of violating the Project Labour Agreement (PLA) signed between the two parties.
The workers demanded that the PLA be fully implemented, that salary discrepancies be rectified with immediate effect, and that the industrial relations officer Michaelino Kadikwa be removed from his post with immediate effect.
Workers also want fair and procedural recruitments, with a stop to abuse of workers, and the reinstatement of workers whose contracts were allegedly terminated unfairly, which includes some shop stewards.
Project manager Fabrizzio Lazzarin, in letters written to both the workers and the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union, called the strike “illegal”.
He indicated the company will be forced to seek a court interdict against the workers should the strike continue to June 30.
“Your urgent intervention will be highly appreciated to prevent the pending imminent urgent application to the Labour Court and to aver unnecessary cost order against the union and its members,” stated the letter addressed to the union.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry yesterday lamented the fact that the strike costs the country N$2 million a day and appealed to the two parties to resolve the issue in line with the country’s existing labour laws, and that no one is above the law.