Twenty-three instructors from the Katutura Youth Enterprise Centre (Kayec) say they were unfairly dismissed last week for not attending a meeting they were not aware of.
The instructors are accusing Kayec’s management of bullying and strategically trying to get rid of them.
“We were dismissed last week because we missed a meeting, and this is a meeting we were not aware of. This meeting was apparently scheduled for 8 September 2023, but according to our schedule, we were not supposed to have a meeting on that day,” said one of the dismissed instructors who prefers not to be named.
All of the instructors have been charged with insubordination after a charge sheet was presented to them by the company’s legal representative.
“We went for a hearing on 21 September, with the chairperson, and supervisor. They said they would revert to us after a while but hinted at a dismissal immediately,” said the instructor who has been at the vocational school since 2019.
She added; “We have a WhatsApp group which we use for our communication, if there is any meeting scheduled, it is posted there. But this one was not communicated on the WhatsApp group. The supervisor claimed that he met every instructor on that day to invite us for a meeting. He claimed that he also reminded us but this is not true.”
Another disappointed instructor said there was bias because the testimonies in the charge sheet were different from what was originally communicated.
“We do not understand. If the case was so serious for people to be dismissed, others were given verbal warnings and this does not make sense,” said the instructor.
The group said this was not the first time a group of instructors were fired; a few years ago, a similar thing happened.
“I am not comparing the situations because those instructors allegedly had an illegal strike but this is hovering suspicion. What made those instructors go on strike? Might be the same reason we are going through right now, who knows,” she said.
In 2017, 13 teachers in Windhoek embarked on a strike for salary increment and were subsequently dismissed after the labour commissioner ruled that the strike was unlawful and therefore unprotected.
“For the duration I have been here, I have never missed a meeting. So as a leader, when you come across people not attending a meeting, are you not going to call and find out why they are not at that particular meeting?” questioned the instructor.
Another tutor who also prefers his identity to be hidden, said they are always in the dark when it comes to the affairs of the school.
“We apparently do not have any rights to know what is happening, even the money that is provided from NTA, anything budget-related, we are not allowed to know. We do not have that right at all,” said the man who has been serving there for four years.
According to him, he was not aware of the meeting the colleagues were talking about as he was not around at that time, yet he managed to find himself among those dismissed.
“Apparently, I was supposed to know that there is a meeting that day. It is a norm. So, the dismissal is just because they are assuming that I am supposed to know which is not really fair at all,” he said.
Contacted for a comment, Kayec director Nelson Prada said the employees are not being truthful and vehemently denied all allegations.
“Kayec Trust denies allegations made by aggrieved employees. Kayec Trust is committed to always complying with the provisions of the Namibian Labour Act, and urges the aggrieved employees to follow suit,” said Prada.
The group has informed this publication that they have not approached the labour commissioner for input but the union under which they fall is fully aware of their outcries. The aggrieved instructors further said they intend to appeal their dismissal but everything looks gloomy as no one wants to hear them out. They further claim their testimonies are being taken out of context.