Police reject charges of bias in Salini strike

30 Jun 2016 12:50pm
KEETMANSHOOP, 30 JUN (NAMPA) – The Namibian Police in the //Kharas Region have rejected claims of bias against the striking workers of Salini Namibia at the Neckartal Dam construction.
The strike commenced on Monday and was in full swing on Thursday, but with a few changes enforced by the Namibian Police Force (NamPol).
Salini was set to obtain an interdict against the striking workers on Thursday in an attempt to end the “illegal strike”.
Namibian Police Force (NamPol) Deputy Commissioner David Indongo, in charge of NamPol operations at the strike, told Nampa on Thursday that the duty of the police during strikes was to maintain law and order.
“We peacefully ordered the protestors to open the gate which they locked and they obliged. They blocked the gate, preventing other people who have nothing to do with the strike from entering or leaving Neckartal Dam,” he said.
The main gate to the construction site was mostly locked on Monday and opened that afternoon for a short while before the striking workers shut it and kept it locked until Wednesday.
The demonstrators were also moved from the entrance area they occupied during the strike.
“We asked them to move 100 metres away from the premises as is required by law and they agreed to do so,” Indongo said.
Some workers told Nampa that this action weakened their strike.
“We blocked the entrance because we blocked production at the site, this is the strike we have launched,” one worker said.
Indongo said the workers had no right to stop suppliers and colleagues who wanted to work from doing so.
Enrich Kazondu of the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (MANWU) meanwhile indicated that the strike would continue.
“We have been unable to sit down with the company as they refuse to engage. It seems they want the situation to escalate,” he said.
Kazondu said the strike was not only a workers’ issue, but a community issue that warranted Government intervention.
“Communities are affected and they need answers. The workers on strike are not unruly youth, they are breadwinners of families who certainly do not enjoy standing there to strike.”
Strikes of this nature costs Government N.dollars 2 million, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry said this week – urging Salini and the workers to find an amicable solution.