10 Feb 2015 14:30pm
KEETMANSHOOP, 10 FEB (NAMPA) Salini SpA, the Italian company contracted to build the Neckartal Dam, was resolute in removing the media from the dam premises during a strike by workers on Monday.
Members from various media houses were banned from attending the meeting between workers representatives, Salini, the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (MANWU) and Government.
While journalists waited for the meetings outcome in the lobby of the companys offices with several staff members and officers of the Namibian Police Force, the mines security personnel approached and requested all journalists to vacate the premises.
Two Southern Cross Security company guards explained that Salini management requested the removal of all reporters with immediate effect.
The guards said the scribes did not have permits to enter, and were thus not allowed to cover the industrial action taking place.
Three journalists, including this reporter, refused on the grounds that the media was invited by the workers and the union to cover a matter of public interest, and that the dam premises did not belong to Salini SpA, but to the Namibian nation.
Three guards later returned with a mobile phone message from their head office, calling on the immediate departure of the media workers.
The message was ignored, prompting an additional exchange of words and arguments between the guards and the reporters.
Within an hour, a senior security team of three members, including a supervisor, arrived from Keetmanshoop to instruct the journalists to leave.
The manager accused the journalists of sneaking in at the gate, and indicated that their sole interest was to execute an instruction from their client.
Last year, a group of Keetmanshoop-based journalists were briefly detained during coverage of a raid on the companys offices instituted by Customs and Excise and Immigration officials.
Disgruntled workers at the Neckartal Dam have embarked on a work stoppage until their demands for better safety and health conditions are heard.
A marathon meeting commenced on Monday, and continued on Tuesday to address the various grievances raised at the dam.
Over 300 workers are involved in the dispute.