WALVIS BAY - Some of the about 40 workers retrenched from the Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology (NIMT) and their union have vowed to challenge the retrenchments as well as seek intervention from the highest office in the country as it was not done in accordance with the Labour Act.
About 40 employees at NIMT campuses were retrenched on Friday, after their positions were declared redundant by Eckhart Mueller the Director of NIMT.
Some of the retrenched employees were lecturers and are concerned the retrenchments will have an adverse effect on the quality of education at NIMT.
Regional coordinator for the Namibia Public Workers’ Union (NAPWU) John Ngolombe, who represents some employees at NIMT, also confirmed that no consultations were done prior to the lay-offs.
“Mueller made a U-turn on his promise that we will sit and discuss whether retrenchments were really necessary and which employees should be retrenched first,” he said.
At this moment he says that Mueller is not willing to meet with the union anymore, however, he says they will follow all requirements of the Labour Act and deal with the retrenchments the correct way for their members Employees also told New Era the retrenchments came as a surprise to them.
“We strongly believe that we are being retrenched because we finally had the courage to speak out against the tyrant operated facility. Most of us that were retrenched formally handed in grievances to the board and our line ministry as we were not happy with the way things are done at our institutions.”
Hilka Shilongo who is also retrenched after 11 years at NIMT said that they handed in grievances recently to NIMT board chairperson, Gaby Schneider and an independent consultant was appointed to investigate their concerns.
“The report was only forwarded to Mueller. We instead only received retrenchment letters rather than feedback and recommendations with regards to the report,” she said.
Another employee also told New Era that NIMT is still making use of several contract employees despite claiming financial difficulties.
“If it so happens that we are in a crisis, why is government not assisting the institution? We all know that what we do at NIMT is not only for the benefit of the mines but most of the students after qualifications go on and create much needed jobs for their peers,” the employee said.
Mueller when contacted for comment told New Era the workers were only notified of possible retrenchments and that there is still a month for negotiations that could change the situation.
However, the retrenchments notices seen by New Era indicated the last day of employment for the employees was 28 August and that their exit benefits and salaries will be paid until end of November.
Meanwhile, New Era learned yesterday afternoon that the retrenchments were halted by the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation.