Namibia: Twyfelfontein Leaves Workers in the Dark

Some of the 83 employees who were retrenched at the Twyfelfontein Country Lodge in the Kunene region last month say the company did not give them prior notice of their retrenchments.

The lodge last month retrenched workers amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

An employee, Absalom Ruiter (59), told The Namibian last week the termination left him feeling unhappy, because he was due to retire in August and the lodge did not give them prior notice.

"I was supposed to retire at the end of August, but it seems they want to separate from us very quickly," he said.

Ruiter has been the lodge's chef for a decade and said he did not receive a cent since his salary of N$2 500 was deducted for a loan he took from the company.

He said he had an agreement with the lodge for the deduction of half his salary at the end of this month and at the end of June, before he was retrenched.

The retrenched employees were given until 25 May to sign a full and final settlement agreement, which they refused to do.

Samuel Sirirka, secretary general of the Namibian Industrial Food and Retail Workers Union said the termination of 83 employees was "harsh and unreasonable".

Siririka told The Namibian last week the Twyfelfontein Country Lodge was supposed to serve a notice as well as alert employees why their contracts were terminated.

He said employees agreed on 26 March that their salaries will be reduced by 50% in accordance with Section 12 of the Labour Act, but the company went behind their back with retrenchments.

"In the event the company faces difficulties such as the reorganisation or transfer of business or the discontinuance or reduction of the business for economic or technological reasons, an employer can apply Section 34 of the Labour Act," Siririka said.

He said out of 83 employees, only three were served with a notice and the rest were informed verbally of their retrenchments.

Siririka said the employees did not agree to the termination of their contracts and the union will declare a dispute with the labour commissioner.

"It is a blatant act in itself. Salaries were reduced and deductions were made from some employees for what they owe the company," Siririka said.

He said about four employees did not receive a cent this month.

Riaan Brand, chief operations officer of Twyfelfontein Country Lodge, told The Namibian last week a proper discussion is best to resolve and clarify misunderstandings between the lodge and employees.

"I have been in contact with our staff committee chairlady and, like most people, do not understand how we will calculate the leave and severance amounts.

"I am arranging follow-up negotiations with our staff for next week Wednesday (today) at Khorixas. We are still negotiating, so nothing has been agreed upon yet," he said.

Brand said they explained the company's position to the staff committee and will negotiate to find a fair and workable solution for everyone.

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