About 35 employees of Ranni Mini Market in Omuthiya who are facing disciplinary hearing and possible dismissal have tendered an unconditional apology under oath to their employer asking for forgiveness and mercy, while another two, have lost their jobs over a charge of theft and insubordination.
The 35 employees were called before a disciplinary hearing on Monday following an illegal strike held last week Monday, when they walked out of the shop in late afternoon and downed tools. They were protesting in solidarity with the two ex-colleagues who lost their jobs on 13 June, through what they described was an unfair process.
Tuefa Kanyama lost her job for allegedly stealing a plastic bag she then sold to a customer for N$2. She admitted to the offence and later apologised, but her apology could not save her. Another emloyee identified only as Rauha lost her job over charges of insubordination after she refused to be deployed to carry out duties which were undertaken by her former colleague Kamanya, Windhoek Observer is informed.
The employees are employed through Employment Placement and Services Namibia (EPSN), a labour hire company, owned by the regional councillor of Tsumeb, Gottlieb Ndjendjela, which places aspirant jobseekers in various industries.
Contacted for comment, Ndjendjela said, Kamanya faced outright dismissal because she broke trust, which is very important in business, while Rauha, was given an opportunity to return to work, but steadfast in her disobedience, then later given another chance to resign or be fired.
Sources this publication spoke too, said, chaos erupted last week, when a heated confrontation between Rauha and the store management ensued, after she refused to vacate the premises when ordered. The police had to be called in to restore law and order. After she was removed, the rest of the colleagues joined her by staging a walkout protest.
The Windhoek Observer is in possession of an apology statement given under oath by the employees in which they are asking for forgiveness.
“How can somebody be fired over a discarded plastic with a value of N$2, these people are taking us for a ride, as they continue to exploit our people, while entertaining foreigners,” argued a source. While another, differed saying, “we are trying to work out things, because the matter seems to have been taken out of proportion, and that those advocating otherwise and claiming injustice did not familiarise themselves with the matters at hand, thus misleading the public. It is not only about the plastic bag.”
Meanwhile, Ndjendjela said, he is waiting for the outcome of the disciplinary hearings, which he says were conducted by an independent labour expert.
“So we are waiting for the recommendation, and we shall follow that, we however take notice of the negativity surrounding the matter, while also open to any possibility to work together,” he said in a telephonic interview.
EPSN has been under fire last year after being accused of exploitative labour hire practices, as well as paying peanuts to its staff attached to various business establishments. These complaints led to Choppies retail store terminating their recruitment contractual agreement. About 43 employees of Nak Trading at Onethindi, Oshikoto, were dismissed last year after going on an illegal strike. Ndjendjela, always remained defiant and claimed innocence, challenging anyone with proof to open a case against him so he can be prosecuted for all transgressions.
“Even last year the Affirmative Repositioning tried and I challenged them to bring evidence and possibly open a case. I told them that I have documents to prove my innocence and that of my business, that all is done in accordance with labour laws. I even offered N$10 000 to be given to anyone with evidence that will lead to my prosecution that I am stealing workers’ money and exploit them. That amount still stands,” stressed the councillor who says his agency has about 2000 workers placed in various industries.
Ndjendjela is often accused of taking huge cuts of the workers’ salaries and leaving them with peanuts. This was also echoed by some of the disgruntled workers at Ranni who said they are paid as little as N$500, while he takes the lion’s share. He however refutes these allegations, “look, before anyone worker starts anywhere, we always negotiate the salaries, wages and conditions, after an agreement is reached they sign and i stick to that. I work on a commission that I take from their salaries,” stated the businessman-cum-politician, while declining to reveal the commission percentage.
“Speaking about salaries and commissions is confidential, but i can assure you that none of our workers are paid less than N$1300 and less than what their various signed contracts state. So, why are they claiming otherwise that I am robbing them, those who feel robbed open cases against me, because if you don’t it’s like you are helping and working together with me to steal from you [workers]. Therefore, I challenge everyone to come forward,” he challenged.