SWAKOPMUND – Salary delays at public enterprises have become nearly a norm as the country continues to battle adverse economic conditions.
This month alone, employees at the Roads Authority, Air Namibia and Namibia Institute of Mining and Technology (Nimt) have told their employees to expect delays in salaries.
Some of the companies have told their employees that the delay was due to ‘technical glitches’, while others were frank in stating that they simply had no cash to fulfil their salary obligations.
Pay-TV company, Multichoice Namibia, majority owned by the ruling party Swapo’s business arm Kalahari Holdings, also informed its employees this week that their salaries would be delayed. Its managing director Roger Gertze said delayed payment was due to an “unexpected error”, but promised employees refunds for any punitive charges by their banks as a result of the delayed payment.
Some of the companies have told their employees to make arrangements with their banks in terms of punitive charges related to delayed mortgage instalments on houses and on other things they pay through debit orders.
Delayed payments aside, some SOEs face salary cuts, while others are mooting retrenchments.
So far Nimt has retrenched at least six employees and placed them on contractual agreements following the closure of some workshops at the government-owned training institution.
Nimt, which has been in the news for months over non-payment of salaries, is implementing severe measures to keep itself afloat.
In January, Nimt employees were paid in two instalments dues to cashflow challenges.
Nimt’s board chairperson Dr Gaby Schneider yesterday issued a statement to staff members in which she assured that no further employee will be retrenched and that they are working tirelessly to resolve the financial crisis at the institution.
At Air Namibia, acting general manager of human capital Herold Mbuende yesterday sent out an internal memo in which he informed employees that salaries would be delayed.
He said that some employees would only receive their salaries today, despite remuneration day set at 25 of every month.
“We would like to request staff to notify their banks to honour all outstanding debit orders that were due on 26 February and the delayed payments thereof through this memo,” his statement reads.
At Roads Authority, senior human resource manager Kauna Nghisheefa also informed employees yesterday that despite them being paid on time, some of their salaries were affected during the payments, especially those that are employed on the total-cost-to-company framework.
This means those affected only received a portion of their salaries, with the company pleading for patience from the employees whilst they rectify the matter.
Some employees charge that late payments put them in a predicament as they cannot meet their financial obligations on time and are also being charged interest on late payments by financial providers, such as banks.
This, they say, affects their credit score and their chances of borrowing from financial institutions are affected as a result.
Some have expressed fear of losing their jobs.
According to Tim Parkhouse, secretary general of the Namibia Employers Federation, retrenchments, salary cuts and late salaries were a reality across many industries in the country.
“I have sympathy with the employees and the employers who are unable to pay salaries on time as we are all feeling the economic crunch - it’s not only Namibia,” he said.
Parkhouse explained that he always urged companies to look at all options before they resort to drastic measures such as retrenchments and salary cuts.
“We hear it on a daily basis that a contractor or company cannot honour its financial obligations towards its employees.”