Disciplinary proceedings against Salini Namibia employees who are on suspension following an illegal strike in April this year are set to continue next Friday.
This follows after a failed meeting between Salini management and the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (Manwu), which was aimed at easing tensions between the two parties.
Manwu general secretary Justina Jonas in a telephonic interview said she and her team last week met Salini’s management on the issue of the illegal strike and disciplinary hearings with the aim to resolve the issue so that workers could go back to work, but the outcome was negative.
She said during the meeting the two parties were not on the same page and thus couldn’t come to any agreement.
She said the company demanded that the union hand to them the names of all workers that took part in the illegal strike, a request the union refused, and the meeting then ended abruptly.
“The company wanted the names of all employees that participated in the strike so that they can be suspended and disciplined but we refused,” she said.
She said that while the union wants to solve the issue so that workers can go back to work, the company is adamant about continuing with hearings, a move seen by her as just trying to prove the point that they are in charge.
“The situation doesn’t look good, the meeting didn’t end on a good note and we didn’t even say goodbye to each other properly,” she told New Era.
Jonas further said the union is ready to represent and defend workers during the hearings, adding that the union will do all it can to see that the about 40 jobs at stake won’t be lost, as it will have immense financial implications for workers and their families.
“The 40 jobs give you about 400 extended family members that will be affected if people lose their jobs – yet Salini doesn’t see it from that angle,” she said, adding: “We must avoid a situation where people lose their jobs over things that can be solved through dialogue.”
Some suspended workers expressed concerns that the hearings won’t be fair, noting that it’s just a formality and the fate of the workers has already been decided. They say this is evident because workers whose contracts expired while on suspension were just notified that their contracts wouldn’t be extended, without any reason given.
The 40 workers have been on suspension with pay since April after workers embarked on a wildcat strike – locking the entrance to the dam site and halting all work.
During the five-day strike, which cost N$2 million per day, workers had demanded that salary discrepancies be rectified with immediate effect. They also called for the termination of contract of the industrial relations officer Michaelino Kadikwa.
The workers further demanded fair and procedural recruitments, with a stop to the alleged abuse of workers and the reinstatement of workers whose contracts were allegedly terminated unfairly.
Further demands were that the company stop with irregular suspensions, that shop stewards that are on suspension be reinstated, and that all expatriates occupying positions that can be occupied by Namibians be deported.
The company is contracted to construct the N$2.4 billion Neckartal dam, which is set to be completed by September next year.