Witvlei abattoir workers demand benefit payouts

12 Feb 2015 07:30am
WITVLEI, 12 FEB (NAMPA) – Former workers at the Witvlei Meat abattoir are up in arms over management’s silence on benefits owed to them, as well as their retrenchment letters.
The WitvIei settlement, which is home to the abattoir, is located in the Okorukambe Constituency in the Omaheke Region on the B6 highway enroute to Gobabis.
Speaking to Nampa on Tuesday, workers claimed that they only received a notice in November 2014 that some of the workers would be retrenched as the company could face closure by early 2015.
Workers received their final salaries on 31 January 2015.
“We are workers in distress. We do not know where we stand now. Management just let us go without any notice.
We are desperate, and need government’s intervention,” said an irate Maria Oaes, who was employed by the company over the past seven years.
Witvlei Meat threatened in December last year that it would close and lay off workers if it does not receive a favourable quota allocation.
The quota allocation has always been divided on a 50/50 basis between Witvlei Meat and the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco) during the past years.
However, Government changed the allocation with the introduction of a new bidding process, based on specific Cabinet criteria, in 2013.
Only Meatco and Witvlei Meat submitted bids for export quotas for 2015.
Oaes said many of them voted for the Swapo-Party government during the elections last year, and want support from all officials and ministers.
Due to the shortage of funds, she could not send her three children to attend high school in a nearby town this year.
About 45 high-school learners are not yet at schools since the beginning of the year, the former workers said.
Oaes added that the children in the village have no future without their parents’ financial support.
Meanwhile, fellow worker Aloisius Horaeb expressed similar sentiments, noting that he has no money to feed his five children.
“We were retrenched, and just dumped by the management of the company.
We only received our salaries at the end of January without any retrenchment letter or pension payout, leave gratuity or any other compensation,” he lamented.
Some casual workers also claimed that they did not receive their salaries, as many of them have no bank accounts.
Workers without bank accounts received their salaries cash-in-hand.
When contacted for comment, the company's managing director Hendri Badenhorst said they will issue a media statement in due course.
The acting Secretary-General of the Namibia Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Nafau) Jacob Penda told Nampa that the union has no comment about the issue at this stage.
“We will only comment at the end of this month,” he added.