Minister calls for sanity at NHE – The Namibian

THE minister of urban and rural development, Erastus Uutoni, has called for sanity at the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) in the wake of a strike by employees demanding better work conditions.

Striking NHE employees marched from the housing parastatal’s head office in Windhoek on Friday to submit a petition on their grievances to the minister.

Earlier last week, the NHE said it could not give a salary increase of 7% as demanded by the employees, as the NHE is in a challenging financial situation.

“I am encouraging the union and the NHE management to work together and avoid things that will hamper our relationship,” Uutoni said after receiving the petition.

According to Public Service Union of Namibia secretary general Mathew Haakuria, this is the third time the union has approached the minister’s office regarding the NHE’s affairs.

“It is worth reminding you that our first and second attempts did not yield any results as we still remain in the dark as to the actions your office took to address the concerns of workers at NHE,” Haakuria said.

He said the union was, however, aware that the NHE management and the previous board continued to subvert orderly collective bargaining as provided for in the Labour Act of 2007.

“We, therefore, believe that you did not interact with them as so desired, despite this we still have faith in your office to resolve this matter hence we are still approaching your office,” he said.

About 50 NHE employees, who loudly expressed their dissatisfaction, participated in the protest.

Haakuria said “the workers’ demands are not unreasonable as all the proposals made were supported by the current NHE management and it was the previous board that rejected them in total without giving any credible explanation”.

According to Haakuria, the NHE management is threatening striking employees with warnings that they would not be paid if they do not work and that they could face retrenchment.

“We have been in the trenches and we understand the bourgeois style of abusing and threatening workers. We can invoke our societal power of seeking the support of other progressive forces as we know where our powers are,” he added.

Haakuria said the workers are demanding a dialogue with the management and the new board to resolve the industrial action.

He added that the strike would continue as long as their demands are not heard.

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