Construction workers demonstrate against foreign companies

05 Mar 2019 16:00pm
WINDHOEK, 05 MAR (NAMPA) - About 200 construction workers handed over petitions to the ministries of works and transport, finance, as well as the Roads Authority (RA) here on Tuesday, demanding among others that all capital construction projects be awarded to Namibian companies.
This, the workers said, will help to create more sustainable employment.
The demonstrating workers gathered at the head office of the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (MANWU) in Katutura and marched to the Agostinho Neto traffic circle in the central business district, where they handed over the petitions.
Reading the petition, MANWU president Angula Angula said since 2016 the union has been engaging the Ministry of Finance, the Central Procurement Board, works ministry and RA to air their frustration about the kind of jobs created and the large number of jobs lost within the sector.
“Workers employed by foreign contractors have been subjected to unsafe working conditions, are not paid the minimum wage, are not registered with the Social Security Commission and the companies do not comply with the Affirmative Action Act,” said Angula.
Angula also alleged that foreign companies do not invest in capacity building for local Small and Medium Enterprises, treat SMEs like employees and pay them less than the industry usually pays them.
“We construction workers are not economists. However, we know that this behaviour of foreign construction companies will have a negative effect on our economy in the long run,” said Angula.
He further stated that Namibian companies have come of age and are able to complete and yet Government “favours foreign companies.”
“We demand that Namibian companies be continuously provided with all big capital projects and that a representative of the workers be appointed on the Central Procurement Board,” he said.
The workers also demand in the petition that foreign companies that want to be considered for public projects procure local materials, comply with all national laws and pay taxes.
“These are urgent matters and we, therefore, give you until 12 March to respond. Failure to respond positively to our demands will mean that you should face the same retrenchment that construction workers face come election time,” Angula said.
Deputy Minister of Finance, Natangwe Ithete and RA Chief Executive Officer, Conrad Lutombi, who received the petitions, said they will study them and respond to the group.
Deputy Minister of Works and Transport, James Sankwasa tried to read a response to a letter MANWU sent to the ministry earlier, but was cut short by the workers who were unhappy with Sankwasa for not responding to the issue at hand.
The workers refused to listen to Sankwasa, saying it was not the right platform for that response.