Disruptive Namib Mills employees dismissed

Stefanus Nashama

Namib Mills eventually dismissed more than 26 employees for unlawfully blocking the entrance to the company’s premises and threatening to shut down its operations in March.

Social activist Michael Amushelelo, who led the efforts, confirmed this on Thursday.

Despite their dismissal, Amushelelo insisted that he was not responsible for the workers’ job losses.

He accused institutions such as the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, and the Labour Commission of failing to protect workers’ interests.

“The suspended employees were all eventually dismissed. My actions are not the reason why workers lose their jobs; employees lose their jobs because we have weak institutions that don’t protect the rights of workers.

“The notion that workers are suspended because of my militant and radical intervention is nothing but hogwash by my critics who want to paint me as a villain,” he said.

Employees were working under a labour contractor when they went on an illegal strike.

When confronted with unfair labour practices, they sought Amushelelo’s intervention, but his involvement landed him in legal trouble, leading to the suspension and eventual dismissal of the employees by the company.

After a legal battle in May, the High Court ordered Amushelelo to pay Namib Mills’ legal costs for threatening to shut down the company.

He said he would pay 50 cents per month for the rest of his life.

He further stated that, despite these legal actions, this will not deter him from continuing the work he does.

At the time of the threats to shut down the company, Namib Mills filed an urgent application with the High Court to halt the threats to shut down the company. The court issued an interdict to stop the disgruntled group from blocking the company’s entrance and shut down its operation in Windhoek.

Additionally, the court instructed them to maintain a distance of at least 70 metres from the company’s premises, with the Namibian Police enforcing the order as necessary.

Regarding worker dismissal, Amushelelo reiterated that he has intervened in many successful labour issues.

“My success rate is about 99 percent. I recently assisted workers of a company called RS Brick Factory based in Walvis Bay, where 44 workers were dismissed after simply asking for better wages. As a result of my intervention, those workers are now back at work, and conditions have improved,” he said.

Amushelelo added that workers in Namibia are undervalued, leading to widespread exploitation and underpayment, and the moment they stand up for themselves, they will be dismissed, regardless of whether he was present.

He cited the suspension of 109 employees at Ok Foods in Rundu as a prime example.

Efforts to confirm Namib Mills’ dismissal were futile at the time of publication.

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