Traffic officers embroiled in a legal fight with CoW

Martin Endjala

Officers of the City of Windhoek’s Traffic Department have locked horns with their employer, in their pursuit of justice.

The traffic officers are claiming their five-year bonus leave payment, saying they have not received it yet as agreed in their employment contract of 2014. The officers signed a five-year and ten-year circle bonus leave agreement.

The case was laid before the Windhoek High Court in 2020 where the court ruled in favour of the traffic officers to the entitlement of their bonus leave.

The CoW opposed the ruling in an appeal, prompting a postponement in the matter.

Since then, there have been several postponements. A final judgment was scheduled for September last year, however it was never handed down.

Yesterday, the parties locked horns in the High Court, with the City of Windhoek’s legal representative arguing that the old municipal council regulation states that those employed in 2004 which was the inception of the city police, are entitled to the bonus benefit which was later promulgated in March 2013.

However, the traffic officers’ legal representative, Janike Mcloed-Jansen, in her submission yesterday, argued that the promulgated regulation 37 of the municipal council which took effect in 2013, provides that her clients are entitled to such benefits.

She also argued that there is no rationale for any regulation to discriminate or deprive a group of workers from acquiring services that are rendered to a specific group of people.

Her argument stems from the fact that the officers who were recruited in 2014, have signed contractual service agreements which included these benefits, and for the COW to now tell them that their contract has elapsed is unacceptable.

She also submitted that the interpretation by the defendant on the regulation must be revisited, as it is not in the interests of the aggrieved officers, given the fact that they have families. They have worked for many years and are still deprived of what was promised to them only because of a law that says if you were recruited after 2013, you are not entitled to a bonus leave.

Judge Marlene Tommasi also questioned what the CoW’s rationale is if only a certain group is benefiting from this, while the rest are left out.

As a result, she postponed the matter to 11 August 2023 for a final judgment.

A traffic officer, who spoke to the Windhoek Observer and who wishes to stay anonymous said that after the five-year term lapsed in 2019, they then approached the human resource department to inquire about their bonus leave grant as stated in their contractual agreement.

“To our surprise, we were told that the contract was amended and that their old contracts were nullified.

When I inquired further, the Human Resources department had no answer. I was also told that there were no verbal or written communications notifying us of the cancellation. I did not see such a memo. Nothing was communicated to us. Why was such a decision taken without our concern? I mean, don’t our voices matter?” the officer asked.

Another traffic officer also explained that they have held talks with the head of the department of traffic of the CoW, but these dialogues did not solve the matter and instead aggravated it further.

“I hope that this fifth postponement will be the last and that the Judge will rule in our favour to finally put the matter behind us and be paid what we are entitled to as per our contractual agreement,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mcleod-Jansen, argued that after carefully studying the contract agreement, there were no amendments done, thus affirming that the CoW owes the traffic officers their entitled five-year bonus leave.

The head of communications, marketing and corporate affairs, Lydia Amutenya, has confirmed the ongoing embroilment, but could not give further information as the case is still ongoing.

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