Over 80 temporary workers, who claim they were unfairly dismissed by the health ministry, last Thursday petitioned the ministry’s executive director Ben Nangombe, demanding permanent jobs.
The 87 workers and the Public Service Union of Namibia (PSUN) marched from the Katutura police station to the ministry’s headquarters, chanting, “permanent jobs now; permanent jobs now”.
The protest comes after their “dismissal” by the ministry on 31 October 2022. “We are only cleaners and porters, and some of us cannot write; some of us cannot read, but we can use a mop and a broom very well,” the petition reads. They asked how one would pass an interview when one cannot read and speak good English. The workers demanded, through their petition, that they be reinstated to keep the hospitals and clinics neat.
“We further demand to be employed permanently because the position of cleaners and porters are permanent positions in government,” states the petition. Wakaera Mbahepa (31), a single mother from Katutura, told New Era the need for them to be insourced as permanent workers is not a demand but a matter of humanity.
“After we got dismissed, as human beings, we no longer have any source of income to help our families. How will I feed my child? We also do not have medical aid. The ministry must give us permanent jobs,” said Mbahepa.
Josephina Shikomba (26) said life will be difficult for her without a job. “Should we seek alternative ways of survival like prostitution so we feed our families? Some people might turn to criminal activities. Also, hunger will take over,” Shikomba said.
Receiving the petition, Nangombe said the matter will be taken up with the relevant authorities. He cautioned the protesters to protest respectfully and maintain discipline. The ministry has been given until 7 November 2022 to revert to the protesters with an amicable solution.