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Labour agency to fire 43 picketing workers

2021-11-03  Obrien Simasiku

Labour agency to fire 43 picketing workers
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Obrein Simasiku

OMUTHIYA - The Employment Placement and Services Namibia (EPSN) says a disciplinary committee has resolved to lay off about 43 picketing workers who have not reported for work since 12 October after engaging in what the company deems an illegal strike.

The group, represented by Affirmative Repositioning Movement (AR)’s Revolutionary Union (RU) is now left in the cold, as the company began sending out termination letters as of last week.

The dismissed workers were employed by Nak Trading and Enterprise cc in Oshikoto. 

“You are hereby informed that your service is terminated from 28 October for partaking in an illegal strike from 12 October onwards, as well as for refusal to report for duty as instructed by management.

Therefore, this decision was taken based on the management’s recommendation of the chairperson of the disciplinary hearing conducted on 27 October in your absence,” reads part of the termination letter seen by this publication. 

EPSN has been at loggerheads with the AR in recent weeks after the movement has labelled and accused the recruitment agency of using exploitative tactics, alleging that it has been ripping off workers by deducting huge amounts.

Recently, EPSN founder Gottlieb Ndjendjela said only four out of 43 have signed the termination letters. 

EPSN is said to be operating as a recruitment agency for individuals seeking employment, and thereafter acts as a middleman between the worker and the employer, thus giving it the mandate to facilitate salaries. 

Documents show that on 27 October, lawyers Weder, Kauta and Hoveka Inc, representing Nak Trading and EPSN wrote to AR’s Angelina Immanuel, Simon Amunime and Maitjituavi Stanley Kavetu informing them of the High Court order granted on 25 October, to declare the ongoing strike illegal. 

AR led a number of protests last month, in which they were claiming to clamp down on all exploitative employers.

It alleged that Nak Trading is exploiting workers by offering low wages, unconducive working environment and also subjecting employees to physical abuse.

AR spokesperson Amunime said AR is not a union thus it’s not representing the workers through the alleged strike.Instead, he said, the workers have been pitching up to the workplace daily but have been locked out. 

“We led a demonstration to help the aggrieved employees realise the benefit but we led no one to a strike. These people are working.

In fact, we never engaged with EPSN. We were dealing with Nak Trading, so whatever they are trying to make it’s a third-party arrangement. So, in our view, no employee has been missing work because they show up daily from 08h00 to 17h00,” stressed Amunime.

In addition, he said they will hold another demonstration this morning whereby people gather from 09h00 at ABC in Ondangwa, then march to Onethindi. 

“We told the workers not to sign anything under the disguise that it’s renewed employment terms, they are using deceptive tactics.

"In fact, we have seen since the time we handed over a memorandum of demands that the employer (Nak Trading) has started addressing some of these issues, like issuing out forms for signing up for unions as well as renovating the workplace,” he stressed.

2021-11-03  Obrien Simasiku

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