At the beginning of July 2021, Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) Limited communicated the need to cut the salaries of all its employees as a last resort after it had exhausted all other cost-cutting measures it had instituted over the past 16 months. Consequently, a misunderstanding was created in certain quarters that because NWR is a state-owned enterprise, this was an illegal decision being taken by the company.
“However, it is important to note that the Labour Act makes provision for an organisation to enact a salary cut and reduce employee working hours accordingly for a period not longer than three months”, read a statement issued last week by NWR spokesperson, Mufaro Njabulo Nesongano.
“NWR is probably the first public sector institution to take such a measure. This in itself is not surprising because the tourism sector was devastated by the impacts of Covid-19. Some other organisations were not so lucky and had to close down due to the pandemic,” said Matthias Ngwangwama, NWR managing director.
He further stated that implementing the salary cut was one of the most difficult decisions he has had to take since assuming the managing director role.
“It is not something I took pleasure in doing, but in the current circumstances, the options were limited. Contrary to what some stakeholders indicated, reducing remuneration and hours is not ‘unlawful’ but regulated in the Labour Act (Act No 11 of 2007). Stakeholders should familiarise themselves with and try to understand the provisions of the Labour Act rather than make harmful statements that, in the end, may harm the reputation of the company. I request that all company stakeholders support the measures that management is trying to implement to ensure the company’s survival and longevity”.
The MD added that NWR is, however, pleased to observe that some of those who were initially critical of the company’s stance to enact a salary cut have come to understand its move, which is geared towards securing the livelihoods of its more than 600 staff members.