Whale Rock Cement workers claim exploitation

13 Mar 2019 14:10pm
OTJIWARONGO, 13 MAR (NAMPA) - Workers of Whale Rock Cement outside Otjiwarongo are claiming exploitation, saying they work without having signed employment contracts for low salaries.
More than 50 unhappy Namibian workers last Monday gathered at the entrance of the plant to express their unhappiness. The artisans, machine and plant operators, cleaners, drivers and laboratory technicians who formed part of the gathering told Nampa their salaries of about N.dollars 3 000 a month are lower than that of Chinese nationals in the same positions.
They alleged that the Chinese employees earn between N.dollars 19 000 and N.dollars 35 000.
They also said they were scared of victimisation once they voice their discontent as they have not signed employment contracts.
“We need clear job descriptions, fixed salaries, medical aid, social security and pension benefits,” they said.
They called on their managers to respect Namibian labour laws, saying dismissals and disciplinary hearings should be conducted in accordance with local laws.
They further demanded that a bar allegedly operating illegally on the premises be closed as they said once employees are under the influence of alcohol, fights tend to break out.
Whale Rock Cement Managing Director, Zedekias Gowaseb in an e-mail sent to Nampa on Monday said salaries are confidential and cannot be discussed with the media.
Gowaseb, however, said the claims of the Namibian workers on salaries are unfounded and devoid of any truth.
He said his company is in the process of increasing the salaries of all workers and considering introducing medical aid and pension benefits.
Gowaseb said the employment contract issue is also being dealt with.
“Their job descriptions were already handed to them for signing and filing,” he said.
He further said as far as he knows all disciplinary processes at the plant are in line with local labour laws.
Asked about fights between employees, Gowaseb said most of the cases were dealt with.
The Office of the Labour Commissioner at Otjiwarongo on Wednesday confirmed that seven cases of assault and drinking while on duty were opened by workers of the cement company.
Trading under Cheetah Cement, the Whale Rock Cement plant is situated on a portion of Cleveland Farm which belongs to the Otjiwarongo Municipality. The municipality along with Gowaseb and some Chinese nationals hold shares in the plant, which has more than 240 employees - both Namibian and Chinese.