A GROUP of former Namport casual workers were ejected by police from the parastatal's head office at Walvis Bay yesterday, following a Walvis Bay Magistrate's Court order.
The workers had been on the premises since their services were terminated at the begining of February. They had been hoping for compensation, or to renegotiate their employment status with the harbour operator. The workers, some who claim to have worked for Namport for 15 years, say they have been treated unfairly and that they were not properly compensated, as well as that some had even been promised that they would be re-employed in permanent positions.
After an official announcement of the casuals' fate by Namport last Friday, the workers said they would remain on the premises because they had nowhere else to go.
Walvis Bay Magistrate's Court issued an eviction order on Wednesday after Namport had filed a complaint.
Claims of chaos during the eviction were dismissed by Nelumbu.
"I explained to them the procedures, and that the police were there to execute the order peacefully. We were not there to listen to their labour relations as this is something we cannot solve," said Nelumbu, adding that some refused to leave, but were prompted to move about 500 metres away from the headquarters.
"There were even some who climbed into the police van and said we must lock them up because they have nowhere to go. We took them to Kuisebmond and dropped them off there, but they said they will go back to Namport until their demands are met," he said.
Nelumbu, however, warned that if the workers decided to re-occupy the Namport head office to camp there, they would be doing so illegally, and would be guilty of contempt of court.
"We will then have to arrest them," he warned.
Due to international and local economic conditions, which have forced Namport to streamline its operations and costs, which also effected its workers, the parastatal decided to terminate the employment of about 250 casuals who were mostly used on an ad hoc basis in fish repackaging, according to Namport CEO Bisey Uirab. The workers, however, submitted a complaint to the labour commissioner, accusing NamPort of unfair labour practices.
As for the about 50 casual workers picketing at the headquarters, Uirab said Namport would be willing to follow the correct procedures and cooperate with the labour commissioner, and he expressed the hope that the workers would also respect the laws and procedures, and not camp at the company's head office.
According to Namport's port operations executive, Raymond Visagie, the casual workers were unlawfully squatting in front of and around the Namport property. "There has not been another arrangement between the casual workers and Namport in the meantime. There is currently no intention to lay charges against them, and as long as the court order is complied with, there is no reason for Namport to take any further action," he told The Namibian. The casual workers listed in Namport's urgent application to the High Court must on 24 March show the court why the eviction order should not be made final.