New Era construction workers demand safety gear

15 Mar 2016 18:10pm
WINDHOEK, 15 MAR (NAMPA) - Employees at New Era Investment construction sites in Windhoek, Walvis Bay and Swakopmund have downed tools until they are provided with protective gear.
Such gear includes a helmet, gloves, goggles to protect the eyes, and heavy-duty boots.
Their refusal to work comes after a fellow worker was injured when a metal object fell on his head at a construction site’s “hard-hat area” in the capital on Friday.
The injured employee is still in a critical condition at the Roman Catholic Hospital in Windhoek.
About 500 construction workers have since downed tools out of fear for their safety on site.
Namibia Building Workers’ Union (NABWU) Secretary-General Victor Hamunyela said Chapter 4 of the Labour Act places an obligation on the employer to provide a safe working environment.
He told Nampa on Tuesday that following Friday’s incident, the union had visited all New Era construction sites.
“We have realised that not all of employees are protected and for us, we can’t stand the risk to see another accident and then to react,” said Hamunyela.
He said the union would like to see a working environment so safe, that even if an accident was to happen, the workers would be protected.
The unionist said the Labour Act states that an employee may vacate the place of danger; the employee must inform the employer that they are going to vacate the place because of the situation they are foreseeing; and the employee is entitled to his/her remuneration during that period of vacation.
Hamunyela noted that workers are not on strike but would like to engage with their employer on the matter of safety gear, which on Monday led to a meeting between the union and company during which the employers agreed to provide the workers with personal protective gear.
New Era Investment construction employee Mathew Costa told this agency Tuesday they want to work but only with protective gear.
“We left the workplace because of safety and we will stand here until we get an answer from them,” he said.
New Era Investment Human Resource Manager Rosita Nawases told this reporter Tuesday they are working on the issue and have already started distributing protective clothing at some sites in and outside Windhoek.