Sacked workers in the dark
A year after 333 Novanam Fishing employees were dismissed for allegedly removing company property from the production floor and being in possession of unauthorised company property, the employees still remain in the dark. A case was opened against the company by the dismissed employees.
According to the General Secretary of the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union NAFAU, Kiros Sackaria the case was referred to the office of the Labour Commissioner for intervention and possible conciliation and arbitration and the matter was heard in April, and concluded in May. After the arbitration process has been concluded, an award was given. This route was chosen by the employees and their union representatives.
A case of unfair dismissal was then registered with the Labour Commissioner ‘s office by both trade unions representing the affected employees, i.e. the Namibia Seamen and Allied Workers Union (NASAWU)and the Namibian Food And Allied Workers Union (NAFAU).The matter was heard by the Labour Commissioner himself because of its importance and the large number of employees involved. The matter was heard in two phases, the first phase consisting of supervisors and then the second phase consisting of general employees. Eighteen supervisors were confirmed to have been dismissed fairly by the company during the arbitration process whereas one supervisor was to be reinstated per the decision of the same arbitrator. The arbitrator further confirmed the dismissal of three employees has been fair while the rest of the group, some 330 individuals, were found to have been dismissed unfairly. The arbitrator hence ordered that they should be reinstated in their former positions which they occupied immediately prior to their dismissal on 30 August 2012.
Sackaria confirmed that the arbitration award was given in favour of the dismissed employees already on 24 May 2013 and was made a Labour Court order in terms of the Labour Act of 2007. Sackaria said the union is doing everything in its power to make sure the dismissed employees get justice. “Currently the employer has exercised their right by appealing against the award to be set aside for reviewal through their legal representatives, Lorentz Angula Legal Practitioners. On the other hand NAFAU has instructed its legal representative, Sisa Namandje & Co. Legal Practitioners to oppose and deal with the matter and as for now, we are relying on our legal representative on any way forward.”
“We are seriously concerned about the plight of our members who are currently languishing in difficulties and poverty due to the delay that is on but we are also mindful of the legal process that has now taken over from us” concluded Sackaria.
The fishing company has since been under scrutiny from the media and there were recent reports on some of the employees’ pension money allegedly being transferred into unknown accounts. Former Novanam Human Resources Manager, David Pokolo is allegedly the master mind behind the missing funds. Efforts to get a comment on the matter from Novanam proved fruitless as Novanam Industrial Relations Manager, Francis Kawana said he could not comment on the matter and that no one had been appointed to comment on the matter since the suspension of Pokolo.