The Namibian (Windhoek)

29 June 2012

Namibia: Fishing Company Cuts Toilet Breaks

WORKERS at Etosha Fishing Corporation in Walvis Bay will receive a written warning if they spend more than 45 minutes per day in the toilet or on smoke and chat breaks during work hours.

After receiving three warning letters, workers will face a disciplinary hearing.

Workers have complained that they sometimes need to visit the toilet more often. Some of them have reportedly refused to sign the warning letters.

Their working hours are monitored by a punch-clock system.

Pieter Greeff, the company's managing director (MD), yesterday said their average production had dropped from 18 tons per hour to 14 tons per hour.

This necessitated the drastic measure of issuing warning letters to whoever spends more than 45 minutes per working away from the job.

"Whether he goes to the toilet or stands smoking or chatting outside is irrelevant. The people stand outside and then you must pay them."

The company's workers get a 15-minute tea break in the morning and another one in the afternoon, on top of a lunch break from 13h00 to 14h00, Greeff said.

After the production decline, surveillance cameras were installed to monitor workers' movement, the MD said. "We could clearly see how they stand outside and chat and bunch together."

Those employees with bladder problems or those who need to take medication at work are excused from the new rules, provided they have a medical certificate, he said.

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