Former Namibian trade minister David Namalenga says the workers at his textile factory spend “too much time” in the toilet because they do not want to work.
Namalenga’s remarks were in response to a petition from the workers who alleged that his company was recording the time they spent in the toilet and deducting money from their pay for this.
Namalenga said he could not pay for time spent in the toilet because most of Namibia’s defunct textile factories closed down apparently due to laziness among the workers.
“If they [employees] spend a lot of time in the toilet and do not do the work, which they are required to do, then there is no job. Now, if the client wants their stuff and people spend the time in the toilet instead of working, then there is no job,” said Namalenga.
He said most of the workers in his company had worked for several textile firms that had closed down since 1990 due to worker laziness.
Namalenga said he believed they wanted to bring their tendencies of non-peformance with them, a development he vowed not to allow.
“Here at Dinapama, we will not tolerate laziness. Nothing is hidden here at Dinapama, and there is no colonialism here. They [workers] can demonstrate and make noise, but the point is that we just have to work. Whoever does not want to perform must just get out,” Namalenga said.
Until 2011, the former outspoken trade unionist was the minister of trade in the Namibian government of President Hipikefunye Pohamba. He is now the managing director of Dinapama, a joint venture textile manufacturer based in the capital, Windhoek.
In a petition sent to the Namibia Wholesale and Retail Workers Union, the workers accused Namalenga of deducting money – equivalent to the time they spent in the toilet – from their salaries as lost productivity.
The union also accused the ex-minister’s company of “a continued disregard” of good practices and ethics in handling workers’ queries.