27 November 2012

Namibia: GIPF Meets NAC Retrenched Workers Halfway

THE Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) is going to pay a portion of the pension money to retrenched Namibia Airports Company (NAC) workers as the dispute between the workers and their former employer remains unresolved.

The corporate communications officer at GIPF, Elvis Nashilongo, said the process of paying the the cash benefit, or resignation benefit, was already in motion and likely to be finalised before December 7.

“We have decided to meet the workers halfway because the people are suffering; the workers gave us authorisation to go ahead,” Nashilongo said yesterday.

Once the dispute with the NAC is resolved, the rest of the workers’ retrenchment packages will be paid out, he said.

The dispute arose because the NAC and its former workers have to agree on the type of benefit the workers are entitled to before the GIPF can make the payment.

The NAC was reluctant to describe their termination of employment as retrenchment because it would mean that it has to pay an added amount of money over to the GIPF because retrenchment benefits exceed resignation benefits.

The other matter that is also outstanding is to find an arbitrator whom all parties have to agree to.

So far, there is no apparent agreement on the arbitrator, and with the year running out, there seems little chance of that happening.

But Nashilonga said the GIPF’s legal team was working on finding a suitable arbitrator as the fund was anxious to conclude the matter.

The delay in the pension payouts of the 30-odd former NAC workers has dragged on for about eight months as the NAC has dug in its heels, presumably because it does not have enough money to pay the extra amount over to the GIPF.

But the former workers questioned this assertion since the company was to pay Brian Nalisa N$6 million in consultation fees during the restructuring process.

Shortly thereafter, the NAC also introduced a new car scheme for its executive management, which the former workers said would amount to unnecessary added expenses to the company.

But the NAC earlier said that it had introduced cost-to-company packages for all staff after the restructuring process, and the car scheme and allowance policy allowed executive management to get company cars that they can surrender back to the company when they leave the company, or after four years or 120 000 kilometres.

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