Cement News

NEFF wants Govt to intervene in Cheetah Cement deadlock

NAMIBIA Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) vice president Longinus Iipumbu has challenged minister of labour, industrial relations, and employment creation Utoni Nujoma to intervene and find a solution to the ongoing strike at Cheetah Cement.

The company and its workers have been in a deadlock for the past 57 days over working conditions.

Iipumbu made the call on Tuesday in parliament while raising ministerial questions.

He claimed the government is failing workers. Nujoma is expected to answer the questions in parliament soon.

“Why have you not gone there? Leave your air-conditioned office and at least go to Otjiwarongo to mediate between the striking employees and the company ,” Iipumbu said.

Meanwhile, Cheetah Cement has denied allegations that the company has hired scab labour to avert the financial implications of the ongoing strike.

Workers have been striking for the past 57 days, demanding medical aid, pension and housing allowance benefits.

Company spokesperson Tabby Moyo says Cheetah Cement has no intention of using scab labour in the future.

He says the company remains open to discussion with the union to end the strike.

“The strike was initiated by the union, therefore the sole responsibility to resolve the dispute does not rest with the employer alone.

“However, Cheetah Cement maintains it has always been willing to engage the union to seek an amicable resolution to the dispute,” Moyo says.

Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) branch chairman Naftal Nghipitwako says Cheetah Cement hired temporary employees to replace the striking employees.

He says this is in violation of strike rules.

“After 56 days, the employees of Cheetah Cement are still on strike, and the company has hired employees through APS to do the job of the striking employees.

“Employees are demanding the introduction of medical aid, pension fund and house allowance benefits. So far, the management is only willing to provide medical aid,” Nghipitwakohe says.

Last month the employees who are taking part in the strike were ordered by the Windhoek Labour Court not to interfere with the company’s operations and with the free movement of people and traffic to and from Cheetah Cement’s plant at Otjiwarongo.

MUN members were also restrained from interfering with the company’s operations, blocking access to the company’s premises, and inciting, encouraging or assisting anyone to intimidate or threaten non-striking employees and contractors of the company.

The interdict, which the company applied for on an urgent basis, further authorises the police to remove any striking Cheetah Cement employees or MUN officials from the company’s premises if they act in breach of the court order, to take steps to ensure unrestricted access to the premises, and to protect the company’s property, employees and contractors if the strike turns violent.

The court order is in force until 12 September, unless the MUN or striking employees approach the court before then to challenge the interim interdict.

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