Retrenched Otjibamba employees demonstrate for payments

16 Oct 2014 14:50pm
OTJIWARONGO, 16 OCT (NAMPA) – Former employees of the Otjibamba Lodge here staged a peaceful demonstration on Wednesday to demand their retrenchment packages.
Twenty-six employees of the lodge, situated approximately five kilometres south of Otjiwarongo, were retrenched in July this year.
The lodge is part of the Global Quaestor Investment (GQI) entity, which has its headquarters in Windhoek’s Agostinho Neto Street.
GQI spokesperson Djion Neto confirmed to Nampa in July this year via e-mail that all business activities at the lodge were suspended on 30 June.
Neto said the lodge had been struggling to make a profit for several years.
The former employees’ spokesperson, Willemina Amadhila on Wednesday told Nampa shortly after the demonstration that since the lodge closed, the 26 retrenched employees have not received any retrenchment payments.
She said the lodge’s management agreed to pay each worker their retrenchment package on 15 September.
“Today is 15 October, and none of us have received any money. We are tired of waiting, and we are hungry, we don’t have jobs,” she stressed.
The unhappy former workers marched to the offices of the Namibia Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Nafau) where they gathered, chanting songs and slogans.
They indicated that their peaceful demonstration was aimed at making their voices heard because they do not know where to go as the owners of Otjibamba allegedly do not seem to care about them.
They even vowed to march to State House in Windhoek, where they want to hand over a petition to President Hifikepunye Pohamba, if the lodge’s management fails to pay their retrenchment packages by the end of this month.
They further claimed that the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare had failed to help them, adding that a certain labour inspector at the Otjiwarongo office has been aware of their situation since August this year.
According to the retrenchment agreement issued in August and seen by this reporter, the former employees are supposed to receive amounts varying between N.dollars 4 000 and N.dollars 57 000.
The company is supposed to pay a total retrenchment package of N.dollars 389 900 for all 26 employees.
Contacted for comment on the matter, Neto said the company recognises the prerogative of the former workers to air their discontent.
He said the Otjibamba Lodge has not been operational since July 2014, which would have enabled it to generate the money to be paid to the former workers.
Neto explained that the lodge is still an asset of GQI, adding that it has not been sold to make money to pay the disgruntled former workers.
He said GQI had negotiated a full retrenchment package with the workers in conjunction with Nafau and the Ministry of Labour and Social Services’ Otjiwarongo regional office.
GQI had agreed on 15 September 2014 as deadline for the settlement of the retrenchment money, but the company failed to meet this deadline.
Neto said upon realising the failure, his company informed its interlocutors of the situation, stating all reasons for its inability to meet that deadline.
The GQI management is now resorting to other financing sources to secure money for the settlement of the retrenchment packages due to the former employees.
“However, we are not in a position to confirm a date for the conclusion of this matter, but the matter might be resolved by the end of the month (October),” Neto said via e-mail on Wednesday.
Otjibamba Lodge was opened in 1991, and GQI purchased the establishment in 2009 from the previous owners.