“What do you expect us to do? Grovel?” Socialists demand reinstatement of Marcia Kauatjitotje in Namibia

Some months ago a Namibian woman security worker was asked to speak on behalf of the workers; she then spoke and exposed the pitiful wages and working conditions of her fellow workers. Then she was suspended without pay for speaking as a workers’ representative and bringing the company into “disrepute”. After a hearing, she lives with the threat of being fired and being permanently unemployed.

An international campaign of support has sprung up. Marcia Kauatjitotje’s case gained international attention early in February: trade unionists and socialists in South Africa, United States, Britain, Sweden, Turkey, Denmark, Greece and elsewhere wrote demanding the charges be withdrawn and Marcia reinstated with full backpay.

This solidarity had an unprecedented effect: the Namibian Minister of Labour read these emails and lawyers for Eagle Night Watch, a virtual subsidiary of the Chinese state owned Husab Uranium Mine near Swakopmund, wrote back to the protesting socialists claiming they did not have “the facts”.

Despite this, these company lawyers refused to respond to the key facts exposed by Marcia: temporary contracts, pitiful wages, no health and safety measures, ever expanding work responsibilities, pregnant women being fired, and (of course) the crushing of ILO Conventions on the right to organize.

The facts of victimization, contract labour and no benefits are at the centre of the case and cannot be denied. Marcia showed that the company had presented a pretty picture of higher wages and better conditions in the yearly Affirmative Action Reports to government which was just not true.

She was proved right: at her hearing Eagle Night Watch refused to let the Report be read to prove or disprove her criticism.

Spirited socialist response

The international campaign has been a great success. Never before has the Minister had to respond to an individual case like this or a company had to get lawyers to write long emails (without responding to a single point of fact).

“You have not been provided with the correct facts” the lawyers stated, but they are not prepared to lay bare that the employers had wrongly reported wages and conditions.

Far from accepting this rebuke from expensive company lawyers, socialists have responded vigorously:

“It’s also somewhat shocking that a firm with such a global responsibility does not understand that trade unions support each other across the world”, Felicity Dowling, a veteran socialist and former Liverpool councilor wrote.

“Are you surprised that organisations of working women actually organise? What do you expect us to do? Grovel?

“Women in trade unions are persistent, if we are nothing else!”

This is the spirit of collective resistance in solidarity continues while Marcia awaits the outcome which, it turns out, is being delayed.

A current update

Marcia has waited and waited. In Namibian labour law, findings are meant to follow hearings in days not weeks. After waiting beyond the due date she went in to the law firm assigned to undertake the hearing and demanded the finding.

As has happened in so many cases, a finding was made but was apparently unacceptable to the employer. Without being shown to Marcia, the finding is now being reviewed!

Such one sided “justice” is characteristic of Namibia and capitalism generally. The tactic of bosses and the Ministry of Labour is to delay and review; to exhaust and reduce the worker to starvation and then deliver a negative result. Power in the form of corporate capital, determines the final legal decisions.

Despite all these obstacles she is determined to prove she was right, get her job back and win better conditions. She is determined to prove the truth of the workers conditions.

Marcia is steadfast in her case: “I was speaking as a representative of the workers to tell the truth about other working conditions. I very much appreciate the support we are getting internationally; we can succeed, and build a strong labor movement in Namibia.”

Marcia (37) and her daughter struggle to survive with the support of her comrades, workers in Nambia and socialists internationally. She has not had a salary for three months now.

Trade union rights were won in Namibia against apartheid exploitation by the workers themselves in the 1980s; now employers and the state are rolling back what was achieved.

Please write messages of protest to Eagle Night Watch and the Ministry of Labour along these lines:


We understand that the finding in Marcia’s case has been withheld from her and further delayed while she is struggling to survive with her child without a wage.

We are not persuaded by the argument that we have not “been provided with the correct facts”. The undeniable facts are that:

  1. Marcia has been suspended now for three months for speaking on behalf of fellow workers and still has not received a finding;
  2. The low wages and poor conditions detailed by workers at Eagle Night Watch continue as before;
  3. The Affirmative Action Reports have been denied to workers and refused to be allowed as evidence in defense of Marcia; and that
  4. The ILO Conventions C87 and C98 guaranteeing – Freedom of Association and the Right to Organize and C155 – Occupational Safety and Health, are not being observed.

We continue to demand the immediate reinstatement of Marcia Kauatjitotje with backpay for the period she has been suspended. We also demand the reinstatement of Lourens Sorobeb and the lifting of the suspension of all other worker leaders.

SIGNED BY…………………

And send to:

1. Eagle Night Watch Security


2. Swakopmund


3. Office of the Minister of Labour, Hon. Utoni Nujoma


4. Please copy messages of support to:

Workers international network: workersinternationalnetwork8@gmail.com

And United Front Committee for a Labor Party: Info@ufclp.org

AND please send messages of support in WIN facebook page

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