Labour ministry condemns abuse of migrant workers

SITTING AROUND … Angolan migrants at Oshikango. Photo: Contributed

The Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation has condemned the abuse of workers after claims of Angolan migrant workers being abused emerged in the northern regions.

Umemployed Angolan nationals often cross Angola-Namibia borders in search of employment – mostly as domestic workers and cattle herders – due to alleged corruption in their country.

Most of these jobseekers are children as young 12 years old.

Many locals employ the migrants as they are being paid less than locals.

Allegations of the abuse and neglect of workers have been levelled against some employers.

They allegedly take advantage of younger jobseekers by not honouring payment agreements.

“We are afraid to go with people who live very far, because they will pick you up here at Oshikango and take you to some cattle post very far away.

“They will leave you there with little food, and you would not see them for two to three months. There is no way to get back to Oshikango and look for another job.

“When the employer returns, they would not even pay you the money they owe, and they would just tell you to go if you’re not happy,” claims Tito Domingo (16).

He says he came to Namibia with two of his younger brothers to look for work in January, and the three of them ended up being employed separately.

Domingo says he found himself at a cattle post at a village near Okongo in the Ohangwena region.

“I stayed there alone as my employers left to go work at another town. We initially agreed they would pay me N$700 per month.

“I was left with a box of fish and a bag of maize meal which was to last me a month, however, the second month came and went without hearing from my employers, and the food even ran out, but I continued working.

“At the end of the second month my employers came and paid me only N$1 000 instead of N$1 400,” he says.

Another Angolan migrant worker, Feliciana Pinto (34), also claims abuse regarding payment.

“Even though I am desperate to work I will not work at any place far from Oshikango. I would like to be near, because at least when you find that conditions of employment are not good, it’s easier to get back here and look for another job,” she says.

The acting executive director of labour, industrial relations and employment creation, Aune Mudjanima, says all employees working in Namibia, regardless of their country of origin, are entitled to the basic conditions of employment and occupational safety and health as stipulated in the Labour Act.

“The ministry upholds the principle of equality, and there is no discrimination based on nationality. Any employee who has concerns or complaints regarding their working conditions can approach the ministry in their respective area or region for assistance.

“It is a violation of the law for employees to not fulfil their obligations to pay employees according to their agreed upon terms.

“If such an incident occurs, employees have the right to lodge an official complaint with the ministry. We encourage all employees, including Angolan nationals, to utilise our services,” Mudjanima says.

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