The Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (MANWU) on 9 May negotiated an agreement with Chinese Company, Shanxi Construction Investment regarding strict compliance to occupational, health and safety standards and wage laws. Both parties agreed that the monitoring of the agreement will start two weeks after the signing.
Before the agreement, MANWU discovered that the company, valued at around NAD 68 million (USD 3.7 million), was depriving its workers of personal protective equipment (PPEs) putting them at risk of exposure to COVID-19. The company was also not paying its workers based on the lawful minimum wage. The union said that the workers were paid NAD 50.00 (USD 2.70) per day, which is way below the minimum wage of NAD 135.2 (USD 7.32) per day. There were also cases of unfair dismissals and absence of safety representatives / officers at the project sites.
The union said that the government is reneging on its responsibility to protect workers and the Epukiro community due to its failure to monitor the construction project. MANWU called on the government to ensure that health and safety measures are observed at all workplaces and physical distancing is strictly observed.
Justina Emvula, MANWU General Secretary, confirmed that the company has started to implement the provisions of the signed agreement. “We received good news that workers were already provided with PPEs and received their remaining wages. Moving forward, we expect that the Shanxi Construction Investment will start complying with the Government Gazette, which regulates the minimum wage and conditions of employment in the construction sector, including health and safety standards.”