Striking city workers want better working conditions – The Namibian
CITY of Windhoek contractors yesterday said their work exposes them to health risks.
A group of contractors yesterday took to the streets in protest and handed over a petition to the city’s acting strategic executive for human capital and corporate services, Archie Nikanor, demanding better medical care.
The employees have been striking since 13 February, although the city has dismissed the labour action as illegal.
The petition was yesterday read by group spokesperson Tilanus Kavaara.
He said as contractors they are constantly exposed to hazardous matter in the execution of their duties.
Kavaara said they are also demanding a pension fund contribution as the custodian of all local authorities to house their retirement fund.
“We too should be catered for under this option to allow for just and fair labour practices. Without access to a pension fund, we are deprived of an opportunity to prepare for life after retirement,” he said.
Kavaara said they want a danger allowance as they comb the city on a daily basis.
“We thus find ourselves in dangerous crime-infested riverbeds and locations without much choice. As such, we request that the management takes our lack of safety into consideration and provides us with some danger allowance or benefit,” he said.
He said they need health and safety training, as well as psychosocial support.
“As ward cleaners, we are unfortunately the first point of contact to some of the most gnarly secrets of the city, disguised as rubbish. We see things no normal citizen may ever see in their lifetime,” he said.
This includes corpses, body parts, abandoned babies, ejected foetuses and diseased or discarded animals, Kavaara said.
“We need psychological support to terms with the objects that come with the field. We need to receive support generally in the execution of our duties and any other matter relating thereto,” he said.
Nikanor said the group’s demands are noted.
“I am glad to see that some of the demands are within the management’s mandate. Those we need to push all the way to the council, we will do so,” he said.
Nikanor assured the workers that their demands would receive the undivided attention of the management of the council, and that the council will strive towards communicating with them by “at least” Monday.
The workers embarked on a strike as some say they have been working for longer than 20 years with “nothing to show for it”.