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A petrol attendants’ strike looms

A petrol attendants’ strike looms

Placido Hilukilwa

A WORK stoppage is looming for approximately 60 petrol attendants, cashiers and general labourers of the Onesheila Service Station at Oshakati and the Olunkono Service Station at Ondangwa in the Oshana Region after wage negotiations between the employer and the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (NAFAU) reached a deadlock.
NAFAU branch organizer Primus Joseph said that his trade union is still demanding a wage increment of N$800 across the board, but the employer has only given employees a wage increment of 3% and 5%.
Joseph said that the manager of the two service stations, Marionette Nagel, violated the recognition agreement when she increased the worker’ wages in May without consulting NAFAU, but Nagel says that it is the trade union that is behaving in an irresponsible manner by putting forward unfair and unrealistic demands.
Nagel said that her business is already paying its petrol attendants N$10.00 per hour which is more than the minimum wage of N$7.20 per hour.
“I have already given the workers a 3% to 5% increase, the best a business can do under the current economic crisis,” she said.
Joseph noted that the matter was dealt with by the office of the Labour Commissioner but the employer was uncompromising.
“Since the office of the Labour Commissioner has no power to force her to meet our demands, the only option left for us now is to go on strike. The conciliator has issued a certificate of unresolved dispute on 13 September and we have already started preparing for the strike, setting the rules of the strike before workers cast their ballots on whether to go or not to go on strike. If they decide to go on strike we will notify the police, the Governor’s office and both Ondangwa and Oshakati local authorities before going on strike anytime from 29 September onward,” said Joseph.
When contacted for comment, Nagel said she is heartbroken.
“The economy is currently experiencing negative growth on one hand, while on the other hand competition is becoming tough with new filling stations popping up everywhere in the north,” she said.
“We cannot afford to give more than what we gave,” she said adding that a strike would have been understandable if there was no pay raise at all.
“The planned strike will only damage the business further and jeopardize jobs, something we tried to avoid,” she said.
Nagel does not have anything against the trade unions and she keeps hoping that something can be done to avoid the looming strike.

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