Labour Ministry deems petrol attendants' strike illegal

24 Jul 2014 18:20pm
WINDHOEK, 24 JUL (NAMPA) - The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare says the countrywide strike by petrol attendants under the auspices of the Namibia Fuel and Allied Workers Union (NAFAWU) is illegal.
Members of the union started striking on Monday after negotiations, which were supposed to take place at the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare between the union and its members’ employers, was cancelled as the ministry could not be present to act as facilitator.
A media statement issued by the ministry on Thursday said any industrial action taken without the due processes and procedures of the Labour Act in declaring a labour dispute being followed, is deemed unprotected and illegal.
“It has always been the position of the ministry that in an event that the parties could not find an amicable solution leading to a minimum wage and other conditions of employment in the industry, there are other avenues available to the parties such as referring the dispute to the Labour Commissioner or to approach the Labour Court in terms of the Labour Act,” read the statement, adding that its facilitation role has however not reached a stalemate yet.
It said the Labour Ministry had made significant inroads in creating a conducive forum where the Association of Service Stations Owners (ASSO) and NAFAWU could meet and negotiate on a possible solution to the issues raised by the petrol attendants.
The last meeting between the parties took place on 09 July 2014.
The statement said all parties were informed about the postponement of Monday’s meeting, which was re-scheduled for 24 July 2014.
“The claims by NAFAWU that the Ministry is abdicating its responsibility are thus devoid of any truth,” it said, adding that it is surprising that the union would “hoodwink” petrol attendants into embarking on an industrial strike while the parties were still involved in negotiations.
“It is clear that NAFAWU, which claims to represent the interest of the workers, has become a conduit of duping the petrol attendants into acts of unlawfulness,” it stated.
The Labour Ministry urged petrol attendants to return to their respective work stations while negotiations are ongoing to find an amicable solution.
The countrywide strike entered its third day on Wednesday.
Service station workers are demanding a wage increase from their current salary range of between N.dollars 250 and N.dollars 800 per month to a minimum of N.dollars 4 500.
Attempts to reach NAFAWU Secretary-General David Frans for comment were futile.