Namibia: Naute Workers Down Tools

NAMIBIA Industrial Development Agency (Nida) workers employed at the Naute irrigation project in the //Kharas region on Monday picketed at the company's entrance demanding a wage increase.

The workers also bemoaned the absence of a packaging bonus and a reduced food allowance.

This happened after Nida has taken over the management of the Naute project from the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC).

The NDC became redundant when Nida, which was established last year, took over its functions, assets, liabilities and obligations.

The workers' shop steward, Brandon April, said their long wait for a salary increase triggered what they called a "wild-cat" strike on Monday morning. He said the workers returned to work at 14h00 after being persuaded by the Keetmanshoop Rural constituency regional councillor-elect Gertjie Witbooi to resume their duties and to follow procedures as stipulated by the labour law.

April said wages, negotiations between the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) and Nida's former board reached a deadlock in August.

He said the new board promised to resume wage talks, but has continiously been postponing meetings.

This, he said, had infuriated the workers, who then decided to stage a strike.

April said the workers felt deceived as nothing has come of the promise that their benefits would not be affected by the Nida takeover.

A document seen by The Namibian indicates that Nafau demanded a salary increase of 5% for Grade A workers, 4% for Grade B workers and 3% for Grade C workers.

The union also demanded that workers receive back-pay for 12 months.

On 25 November another deadlock was reached as the company only offered a 4% increase across the board.

The workers claimed they have not received any salary increase for the past four years.

Seasonal workers at the Naute project were also part of yesterday's protest to express their discontent over delayed salary payments.

Nida's acting chief executive officer, Philip Namundjebo, could not be reached for comment.

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