Keetmanshoop – Between July and December 2016 Salini Namibia paid out over N$1 million in salaries to about 35 suspended workers.
The workers who are employed on the Neckartal dam project in the //Karas Region have been placed on suspension with full pay since July last year, after they were suspended for their involvement in an illegal strike in June last year, which was followed by a protracted disciplinary process.
Although the company’s spokesperson, Gilles Castonguay, declined to comment on how the suspension of the workers was affecting the overall progress in construction and how much the company is spending on the suspended workers, New Era with information provided by the workers, has it on good grounds that about N$227 300 goes to the 35 workers’ salaries per month, amounting to about N$1 363 000 over the six-month period.
The suspended workers include timekeepers, general workers, cleaners, operators, welders, surveyors, and carpenters, amongst others, with the lowest salary being N$3 400 and the highest N$14 000.
While the company refused to comment on the suspension, the employees New Era spoke to claimed that while the hearings were still ongoing, some workers had been replaced already.
Some workers are also of the view the company will not give them a fair hearing, saying the decision of the independent disciplinary panel is always overruled by the company and workers end up being fired, even when the panel found them not guilty.
“Workers have in the past been dismissed, even when the panel found them innocent. The company has the final say, after all,” said a worker who requested anonymity.
Some Keetmanshoop residents New Era spoke to expressed concern over the company paying workers who are not contributing to the construction of the dam.
“I’m happy that people are getting their salaries, but they would have made a difference at the project if they were working, instead of just getting paid while they are home,” opined Daniel Hidimbwa.
Johannes Kaffer – another Keetmanshoop resident – also wanted to know why the hearing was taking so long, saying in the current economic situation the company cannot afford to spend money on non-productive workers and end up not having money to pay contractors for services rendered.
“At some point last year the workers got half their salaries due to a lack of funds, so why not finalise the hearings so that the workers can go back to work, or get new workers that you pay for doing something?” he asked rhetorically.
On the progress of the project, the company’s spokesperson indicated that the dam is set to be completed by
December, with only 30 percent of the work left to do. “The dam is about 50 percent complete, while the entire project which includes the turbine room, the intake tower and other installations, is 70 percent complete,” Castonguay confirmed.