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84 Katutura hospital cleaners sent home


THE Public Service Union of Namibia (PSUN) has accused the Ministry of Health and Social Services of illegally terminating the contracts of 84 cleaners at the Katutura State Hospital.

The ministry said the cleaners formed part of a nationwide group employed during Covid, but the situation has changed for the better, which means their services are no longer required.

Union secretary general Matheus Haakuria in a media statement said the ministry illegally and prematurely terminated the employment contracts of its members under false pretences.

“The Ministry of Health and Social Services contracted a company called Adaptic to render cleaning services to the Katutura State Hospital. After the service agreement between the ministry and Adaptic came to an end, the workers were enticed to continue rendering the cleaning services at the hospital on a voluntary basis,” Haakuria said.

The ministry exploited the volunteers for two years, from 2017 to 2019, as they rendered cleaning services without being paid a single penny, he said.

“Upon pressure from the volunteers, the ministry gave them fixed-term contracts in August 2020, which were renewed upon expiry,” he said.

The initial contract had nothing to do with Covid-19 and subsequent contracts include clauses that require them to perform work related to the impact of Covid-19, he said.

“Therefore, these workers were not employed because of Covid-19 and thus they are not Covid-19 volunteers,” he said.

The cleaners current employment contracts end in December this year, he said.

“However, the ministry opted to terminate their contracts, with their last working day being today (Monday, 31 October 2022),” Haaukuria said.

The ministry provided clumsy reasons that there are unfavourable financial situations in the ministry and a decline in Covid-19 cases, he said.

Another reason given by the ministry was the repeal of all Covid-19 regulations in August this year.

“These workers are not Covid-19 volunteers. They started working at the Katutura State Hospital before the outbreak of Covid-19,” Haaukuria said.

The financial position of the ministry is sound, he claimed, alleging that the ministry recruits new cleaners on a regular basis.

“This week (last week) the ministry shamelessly asked some of the affected employees to submit their applications for unadvertised posts, of which the closing date was Friday,” Haakuria said.

The union has called on the ministry to withdraw the contract termination letters with immediate effect, adding that it is unlawful and unfair to their members.

“PSUN demands that the ministry pay the workers for the period they worked as volunteers from 2017 to 2019, as the contract they signed had a fault at the time of conclusion in 2017,” he said.

Ministry spokesperson Walters Kamaya said the ministry contracted the company and did not enter into an agreement directly with the cleaners.

“They were contracted by a third party. It happened with their employer and not the ministry,” Kamaya said.

He said the ministry provided reasons to terminate the contracts, adding that most Covid-19 volunteers were hired based on the needs of Covid-19.

“When cases decline, what do we do? We are informed by the need to hire. If the need is not there and resources are not there? The ministry pronounced itself on that issue. We gave reasons,” he said.

According to Kamaya, all the Covid-19 volunteers’ contracts are ending today.

However, they will be given the first priority to apply for available vacancies but they will go through a competitive process.

“It is not true that the ministry is hiring backdoor. For us to employ, we are guided by a structure,” Kamaya said.

In September, ministry executive director Ben Nangombe said in a statement that due to a decrease in Covid cases, a repeal of all Covid-19 public health regulations and the unfavourable financial situation in the ministry, all Covid-19 volunteers’ contracts be terminated by today.





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