THE Public Servants Union of Namibia (PSUN), which represents public and private sector workers, have accused Namchar, a charcoal company based in Witvlei, of exploiting their workers by paying them peanuts as well as not catering to the safety needs of the workers in the charcoal factory.
Reginald Kock, who is the newly appointed union representative of the PSUN, stated that the charcoal industry in the country is mainly informal, but the sector is crowded with South African companies that treat workers like second-class citizens.
Kock shared that workers at the company complained that they get paid as little as N$500 per month for their work at Namchar. He revealed that the workers are also robbed of their sick leave privileges at the factory.
“If the worker is sick, the leave is deducted and the worker is not paid for that day. The company also does not accept sick leave from the nearby clinic at Witvlei and workers have to sometimes fork out transportation cash to go to Gobabis to have a hospital stamp on their sick leave letters. On my visit to the factory, I spotted a pregnant woman picking up heavy bags of charcoal. I asked her why she is not on maternity leave yet and she stated that she was told that she should not come back if she is to go on leave,” Kock shared.
He stated that the health and safety of the factory workers are also put in jeopardy as the company allegedly does not offer workers new masks.
“The workers have been using the same masks for more than two months. When they ask for new ones, they are told to just wash their old masks,” Kock said.
Called for commentary on the allegations against the company, Francios Wiese, the Managing Director (MD) of Namchar, denied the allegations and stated that while the minimum wage is N$9.50, he pays his workers N$13.90.
Wiese further denied allegations that he would fire workers who wish to join the trade union and advised Kock to come to his offices for further discussions.