WALVIS BAY – Some employees of the marble factory, BC Stone Products Namibia at Walvis Bay, said their job security is threatened by legal officer Chris Theron, whom they accuse of intimidation and racial discrimination.
The employees, who petitioned the company last week through their union, the Mining, Metal, Maritime and Construction Union (MMMC), alleged that at least three employees have lost their jobs at the company due to Theron’s actions.
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, shop steward Ndunda Bernhard says another hearing is currently ongoing against a fourth employee who might also lose his job.
“We have engaged the company on several occasions regarding his behaviour with no success. We have even engaged the former (Erongo) governor, Cleophas Mutjavikua, and he was even invited to attend a disciplinary hearing of an employee as an observer, but Theron was not shaken by this move,” Bernhard said.
Workers accuse Theron of using offensive language against employees.
“Theron does not act impartially or with integrity when conducting disciplinary hearings, he always acts on his emotions,” Bernhard said.
The employees also say that Theron is not fit to be their legal officer and based on these reasons they decided to take a stand against him before they all get fired.
“We demand that our employer addresses the issues urgently and not allow Theron to deal with any employee issues or anything that may influence decisions or any policy about the employees,” he said.
Responding to the grievances of the employees, the company’s human resource manager, Lovina Plato, said all disciplinary hearings are conducted “within the confines of our law and that no employee is dismissed without a substantively fair reason or without adhering to a fair process”.
Plato added: “All hearings are chaired by external chairpersons skilled in the field of labour law. Ultimately it is the chairperson who recommends a sanction appropriate to the offence and in line with the company’s code of conduct, upon conviction of a disciplinary infraction.”
Plato, who avoided addressing the accusations made against Theron by workers, noted in a statement that the management is well acquainted with the merits that underlie the recent dismissals.
“We are confident that both the procedures followed, and the reasons for dismissal, will stand up to scrutiny by the office of the labour commissioner and we welcome a further investigation by the appropriate authorities. Regrettably maintaining discipline in the workplace is not always popular,” she said.