• July 2nd, 2020

Councillor admonishes ‘exploitive’ employers

Faith Haushona-Kavamba

ARANDIS – Arandis councillor Benitha Imbamba has admonished employers in her constituency for what she alleges is exploitative conduct toward their employees.

Imbamba says her office has been inundated with complaints from inhabitants who allege mistreatment and termination of work without notice or sufficient compensation by employers.
“Workers are the most important people in the development of our country, they are the ones who deliver production and see to it that big companies are shining and are successful… But we still face the challenges of workers who are not free and are being exploited. We must remember that you can have all the money in the world but if you don’t have a workforce behind you, then you are nothing. You are only successful because of others,” Imbamba said.

In Henties Bay and Arandis, some of the major issues employees have to contend with is employers not honouring minimum wage or paying their employees when it suits them and not registering their employees with the Social Security Commission.

“There are no employment contracts available and workers are fired without employers following the right disciplinary procedures. Workers are even told not to report their cases at the ministry of labour and told to go die of hunger because they (employers) don’t care as it is easy to get another worker to fill their place,” she said. 

She appealed to the ministry of labour, unions and all relevant stakeholders to aid these long suffering employees.

Sakaria Ipangelwa was one of the complainants who visited Imbamba’s office. He alleged that his former employer, Gerdus Burmeister, fired him without cause and forced him to sign a document stating that he would not pursue any legal action against him.

“I was a gardener for 10 years…I received news in December that my father passed on, so I called my employers to inform them that I was going to the funeral. When I came back the boss (Burmeister) gave me N$500, which I thought was him trying to help me because I had just come back from the funeral, but I was later informed that I was fired,” he said woefully.

Ipangelwa further alleges that he was forced to sign a document written in English stating that he was agreeing to a full and final payment of N$500, and in turn he would waive any claims which may arise as a result of the termination of his employment. The letter further states that Ipangelwa would not approach any authorities or attempt to lodge any complaint against Burmeister.

Ipangelwa, who has been unable to find a job, said that he was blindsided by the termination because he never had any issues with his employer and was treated well.
Similarly, former employees of BV Investments 838 CC, which they refer to as Brickau, a brick-making company based in Henties Bay, allege that their employment was wrongfully terminated by their then new employer, Helmut Rakow, in 2014.

Speaking on behalf of the 34 employees, Martin Kapolo said that they all worked well for the first six years after Rakow bought the company. Kapolo, who was a supervisor at the time they were fired, said Rakow terminated their employment for unfounded accusations of late coming, or lazing around instead of making the bricks.

The matter went for arbitration which they won, however, Rakow did not pay them the agreed upon amount within the stipulated 30 days. Thereafter, the matter was referred to the High Court, which subsequently ruled in the favour of the employees but Rakow still failed to pay them. 

“Some of my colleagues have since passed on without receiving any payment from Brickau, their families did not even get that money. While I was lucky to find another job, some of my former colleagues have been unable to get jobs,” he woefully said.

At the time of going to print, Rakow the owner of BV Investments 838 CC, did not respond to the questions emailed to him. However, Enrich Kazondu of the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (Manwu), who was aiding the labourers during the proceedings, said the matter is still at the High Court because Rakow appealed the ruling.

Burmeister vehemently denied Ipangelwa’s claims, stating that the worker actually resigned and subsequently returned asking for money owing to the fact that he worked for 10 years. Ipangelwa allegedly threatened to take legal action which is why he was given the N$500 and made to sign a document stating he would not take further action.

“He does speak English because he resigned with a one and a half page letter stating he was resigning due to difficult working conditions. Although he resigned, he wanted to be paid as though he was dismissed and I told him that the labour law does not allow for that,” he explained. He contended that Ipangelwa was not treated badly and received his salary every month during his tenure as a gardener.

Staff Reporter
2020-03-06 08:01:47 | 3 months ago

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