Namibia Building Workers Union (NABWU) secretary general Victor Hamunyela says he supports the move to shut down a Chinese brickmaking factory in Mariental for non-compliance with the Labour Act.
“As a union we’re happy to see that for the first time an employer is ordered to close, as per the legislation, which is the Labour Act,” he said.
The Chinese-owned brickmaking firm is alleged to have violated the health and safety of its employers for an unspecified period of time. A Nampa report on Tuesday indicated that repeated interventions to engage the owners of the company proved futile, as the owners were apparently never available.
It is alleged the firm’s employees have been exposed to harsh chemicals and excessive dust and have not been provided with uniforms, helmets, dust masks or safety glasses and there are limited water and toilet facilities on site.
He said measures such as these would contribute to employers’ awareness that there are labour inspectors with vested powers to shut down non-complying companies. The union is of the opinion the same sanctions should be extended to local companies that defy the labour law.
Hamunyela claims there are many local companies that are compromising their employees’ health and safety. “It shouldn’t just happen with the Chinese companies, but our local people should also be brought to book,” he said.
He also pleaded with workers at the brickmaking factory not to panic and assured them that their salaries would be paid accordingly until such a time that the company irons out its issues and complies with the Act.
He said employees are entitled to remuneration if they vacate their workplace for the reason that the working environment is not safe.
“An employee who leaves a place of work… is entitled to the same conditions of service applicable to that employee and to receive the same remuneration during the same period of absence,” Hamunyela said.
The brickmaking company at Mariental employs between a 100 and 300 people.