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24 May 2022

Maria Amakali, The New Era (Namibia)

Namibia: Court orders Chinese firm CHICO's construction workers to stop strikes and return to work

"Road workers ordered to stop striking" 24 May 2022

Construction workers of a Chinese-owned company, employed for the expansion of the Gibeon-Tses Road, who downed tools earlier this month, have been ordered by the court to resume duty. 

High Court Judge Harald Geier on Friday interdicted employees of China Henan International Cooperation Group (Pty) Ltd (Chico), represented by Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (MANWU) and supported by Michael Amushelelo and political party Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF), from continuing with the strike. 

The court also ordered the workers to return to work and carry on with their duties as stipulated by their work contracts until their labour dispute, which was launched by their employer with the Labour Commissioner, is resolved. 

Approximately 371 construction workers downed tools on 5 May after their employer was allegedly unresponsive to their grievances expressed in April’s petition. 

The workers are demanding better working conditions, such as improved salaries, availability of accommodation and potable water at Asab camp as well as the implementation of safety guidelines. 

They further claim they have no job security, as they are threatened daily. 

As a result of their strike, their employer filed an urgent application for an interdict, citing the strike as illegal. 

Cui Yunke, the managing partner of Chico, said the strike came out of nowhere. 

According to him, employees, through their union, informed them they would host a peaceful demonstration on 12 April, where they would hand over a petition. 

However, on 5 May, the employees gathered and indicated they would not continue to work. 

They also indicated they are no longer represented by MANWU but by Amushelelo and NEFF. 

He said efforts to resolve the matter amicably proved futile. [...]