01 Jul 2016 16:00pm
KEETMANSHOOP, 01 JUL (NAMPA) Salini Namibia welcomed and expressed satisfaction with a court order issued by the High Court on Thursday, ordering striking workers to open the Neckartal Dam gate they had locked.
The order became meaningless however, as workers had already removed the chain and padlock they used in the lockdown during intervals on Monday and Tuesday.
By Wednesday, through Namibian Police (NamPol) intervention, the gates were open, access restored and protesters were relocated to a 100-metre distance from the entrance gate.
Around a dozen office workers returned to their workstations on Thursday while several hundred production-staff remained on strike.
Salini said in a statement that it regretted being forced to approach the courts on an issue that could have easily been addressed through dialogue.
Spokesperson Gilles Castonguay said the company is open to dialogue, but only when work at the construction site resumes.
Enwich Kazondu of the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (Manwu), however, told Nampa the union was unable to convince the company to sit down for negotiations.
We have tried repeatedly to get them to talk, but they refused. They also cancelled a meeting we had scheduled for Wednesday, he said.
The strike meanwhile continued on Friday and Kazondu said the union could only convince workers to return if at least one of their demands were met.
Some of the demands include the removal of certain managerial and supervisory staff.
The number of striking workers gathered at the site continued to dwindle throughout the week, as many remained behind in Keetmanshoop while some walked back home as the day progressed.
The entrance gate is located about 40 kilometres outside Keetmanshoop.
Agriculture Minister John Mutorwa this week termed the strike unlawful based on the fact that workers locked the gate and emphasised the daily financial cost of N.dollars 2 million of the strike.