About 300 ward cleaners employed by 16 different cleaning contractors under City of Windhoek (CoW) stand to lose their jobs after their companies’ contracts were terminated by Friday.
For the purpose of empowerment, CoW awarded a cleaning tender to 16 contractors in 2005 who were previously its employees and used to supervise these 300 cleaners whose jobs now face the axe.
Since 2005, the cleaning tender has been awarded to these 16 ward contractors with no public tender. The uncertain cleaners who spoke to New Era, said for the first time the cleaning service will be put on public tender this month.
They say the current contract between CoW and the ward contractors was supposed to end by Friday, but in between September the City gave the 16 ward contractors an six-month extension (up to March 2017) while the public tendering process is takes place.
Surprisingly, these 16 ward contractors do not want to renew the cleaners’ contracts, which left them fuming until they approached their union, the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (MANWU) for intervention. They say the contractors told them they will employ new people in the same positions.
“We take note that in line of the law they are supposed to give notice to us, as employees, that the contract is ending end of September. But now since the City of Windhoek have given them an extension, why are they not extending our contracts also for six month?” the cleaners asked.
They are concerned that if their contracts are not renewed they will go back to the streets and will not be able to support their families. The affected cleaners said although their wages amount to only N$2500 per month on average and with limited medical aid benefits they still treasured their jobs.
MANWU general secretary Justina Jonas-Emvula said: “It is so unhuman that we have people given opportunities to create employment, but they mistreat the workers without pity.”
She said some of the ward contractors are involved in unfair labour practice to the extent that their workers are threatened and victimised on a daily basis not to join a trade union.
“This is a disgrace to the City of Windhoek, as well as to the good practice of labour relations in the country. We call upon all these contractors to do the right thing and stop victimising their employees,” she remarked.
Windhoek Mayor Muesee Kazapua said he is aware of the issue and urged contractors to do the right thing and avoid dumping workers on the street.
“We met with the union after the workers raised the issue. We don’t want anyone to lose their job, as we are talking of job creation. We’ve reached a consensus that the City is going to extend those contractors’ term for six months,” he said. He is hopeful that the contractors will extend the affected cleaners’ contracts instead of hiring new workers. He also urged the union to educate their members on issues pertaining to the signing of contracts, so that people do not panic at the last minute when their contracts have come to an end.