4 October 2013

Namibia: Transnamib Workers Demand N$12 Million

TRANSNAMIB workers who dragged the parastatal to court last year for miscalculating their overtime payments are demanding an extra N$12 million after they rejected an N$8 million offer for interest accrued dating back to 2001.

The dispute over payment of interest comes about year after TransNamib was ordered by the Labour Court to pay about N$9,7 million to the workers.

The parastatal paid that amount in instalments until January this year but now the bone of contention is the amount of interest their money accrued in the past 12 years.

The 169 workers, who are claiming that they are owed N$12 million for the N$9, 7 million they received in January this year, dragged TransNamib to court after they discovered that there were incorrect calculations and payments of their overtime, weekend duties and public holidays as well as night-time allowances.

"Workers are demanding the whole N$12 million to be paid," said one of the affected worker who declined to be named.

Chairperson of the Labour Court in Windhoek Clement Daniels on November last year ordered that "in the event that there is a dispute as to the calculations of interest amounts, such dispute must be referred to a mutually agreed auditor to be shared by both parties".

The Namibian understands that consideration was given on hiring an auditing firm to re-calculate the total interest, but the parastatal's auditing department is said to have rejected the idea, a sign which according to sources meant that the compnay had agreed with the amount being demanded.

TransNamib is, however, dragging its feet and has instead offered N$4 million less. Chief legal officer at TransNamib Gukulan Thambapilai wrote a letter on 27 September this year to the legal representatives of the workers telling them that the parastatal had offered to pay the workers N$8 million in respective of the outstanding interest on the capital amount of N$9,7 million agreed upon in the settlement last year.

Thambapilai said in the letter that the proposed amount will be paid in three installments of N$2, 6 million per month, payable on 31 October 2013, 31 December and 31 January 2014.

The legal chief went on to explain that, in the event of a default, TransNamib should be afforded a grace period until end of February to rectify the default. He also asked the workers' representatives to respond by today.

TransNamib sources confirmed to The Namibian that the parastatal has not yet received a response as workers are demanding the extra N$4 million.

Thambapilai declined to comment on the new development at TransNamib. In May this year, TransNamib's legal advisor Evelina Tomas wrote to the workers' legal team that the calculations of the interest owed was referred to the internal audit department for verification.

However, Tomas said, due to the department's limited capacity, they were only able to verify six complaints.

"There are, however, great discrepancies between auditors calculations and your calculations in respect of all the six complaints considered so far," said.

Tomas was further skeptical about some of the demands of the workers in that letter. She said TransNamib was only prepared to compensate the workers on what is due to them.

According to those in the know, the N$8 million is not the first offer. Sources say TransNamib initially offered N$6 million earlier this year.

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