WINDHOEK, 7 September 2011 — Chinese construction firms in Namibia are permitted to operate in in near-complete violation of Labour Laws and Safety Codes, a U.S. Embassy WikiLeaks Cable suggests.
Although Namibia has generally worker-friendly laws, enforcement doesn’t seem to be consistent across the board. Many people and organizations have complained that GRN does not effectively enforce worker safety and compensation rules — Chinese firms don’t seem to pay their Namibian workers the minimum wage nor provide the required safety equipment. The Namibian Employers Federation (NEF) and the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) are believed to have both been noted to say that:
€œChinese companies often employ Chinese nationals without following proper work permit procedures.”
The GRN is accused of “rarely” stopping or sanctioning Chinese companies for “flouting” the Namibian labour code. It is also noted that Namibian firms are consistently underbid and unable to compete with the Chinese because they “do not pay fair wages and skimp on safety.”
The Deputy Labour Commissioner (Shikongo) has argued that her Ministry “does not have the resources (less than 40 inspectors for the entire country) to adequately police the problem.” She was also quoted saying that there is:
€œcorruption in the government tendering process” — Shikongo
How GRN will respond to these damning allegations in a cable created back in September 2009 is unclear? But given that not much has changed over the last few years, it is unlikely to change overnight.
This will most probably remain a hot topic in Namibia for quite some time, or at least until the Namibian government grows enough balls to stand up for its own citizens.
VZCZCXRO3844 PP RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN DE RUEHWD #0302/01 2731212 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 291212Z SEP 08 FM AMEMBASSY WINDHOEK TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0083 INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PRIORITY RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC PRIORITY C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 WINDHOEK 000302 SIPDIS DEPT FOR AF/S AND DRL E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/29/2018 TAGS: PGOV ELAB WA SUBJECT: NAMIBIA'S LABOR PAINS Classified By: Ambassador Dennise Mathieu for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D) . . (snip) . . - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Tough Laws, Lax Enforcement - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ¶13. (C) While Namibia has generally worker-friendly laws, enforcement is not consistent. For example, Namibian business people, workers and GRN officials have complained that the GRN does not effectively enforce worker safety and compensation rules on Chinese construction companies. Chinese companies often fail to pay Namibian employees the appropriate minimum wage and fail to provide proper safety gear. Furthermore, according to the NEF and National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), Chinese companies often employ Chinese nationals without following proper work permit procedures. Nevertheless, the GRN rarely stops or sanctions Chinese companies for flouting the Namibian labor code. Namibian companies claim they cannot compete with Chinese firms who underbid them on government contracts because they do not pay fair wages and skimp on safety. Deputy Labor Commissioner Shikongo, who indirectly is responsible for enforcing the labor code, argues her Ministry does not have the resources (less than 40 inspectors for the entire country) to adequately police the problem. She also referred to corruption in the government tendering process ) a frequent criticism of the business community as well. . . (snip) . . MATHIEU