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PDM parliamentarian Johannes Martin says the workers of Al-Dhahra at Naute Dam, about 40 km southwest of Keetmanshoop, have been working under bad conditions for years.

Martin said although the workers have raised complaints with various offices, including government ministries and offices, nothing has been done.

Al Dahra is a grape and date agricultural company that employs bout 100 workers.

According to Martin, all managers at the company are foreign nationals from Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan, and many other countries in the Middle East.

All Namibians, he said, are promoted only to the level of Team Leaders with the same salary notch as before promotion.

The MP further said that accommodation facilities are not enough nor up to standard.

He said even during the Covid-19 pandemic, and workers were clustered together in rooms and transported in trailers that also carry sewage tanks or waste collection.

Firing and dismissal of workers happen without due process without respect for our labour laws, Martin said, adding that workers are not paid extra for doing work outside the scope of their job description.

For years, Martin said, the workers of the Al-Dhahra Agricultural Company have been expressing concern about the harsh and inhumane living and working conditions they have been subjected to over the years.

“These concerns were brought to the attention of the Office of the President in 2017, and the executive director of the ministry, Mr Etienne Maritz, acknowledged receipt of these concerns by the workers of Al-Dhahra Agricultural Company in a letter 6 February 2017.

“The letter from the ED further stated that the Office of the President and the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation is investigating the concerns raised by the workers,” Martin said.

Martin said he would want to ask the labour minister Utoni Nujoma whether he has been to the agricultural project and if he has, when did he visit it?

He said he would also want Nujoma to describe to the National Assembly the working and living conditions of the workers. If Nujoma has not visited the farm yet, when does he plan to visit?

In 2019, some workers told New Era that they also do not have access to clean water apart from low wages.

They said the company purifies its water, but the workers feel the process is not safe for their health, and they wanted the health ministry to assess the quality of the purified water.

In addition, the workers said the company does not provide them with beds, and they slept on hard boards.

Apart from the living conditions, the workers also said the company gave them only one and a half a day of leave per month.

Al-Dhahra legal and human resource manager Gaynor Hockey told New Era that she was unaware of the allegations. At the same time, the //Kharas regional governor Lucia Basson said she was aware of the allegations.

Basson said she thought that the matter of accommodation had been resolved.

Martin wants to ask Nujoma on Thursday.





Julia Heita

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