Strike looms at NovaNam, union suspects lockout

18 Nov 2013 17:40pm
KEETMANSHOOP, 18 NOV (NAMPA) – The employees of NovaNam Fishing Company at Lüderitz last week Wednesday started voting whether to go on strike in protest against the poor employment conditions at the company.
Should the majority of the 1 500 employees in the bargaining unit vote for the strike, the employees would down tools this week.
The Namibian Food and Allied Workers Union (NAFAU) Lüderitz branch organiser, Jacob Penda confirmed to Nampa on Monday that about 800 employees have already voted.
Penda said only 1 500 employees who are in the bargaining unit are voting for or against the strike, and not all the employees in the company are eligible for such a vote.
He noted that the industrial action is taken to force the company to give employment benefits such as permanent employment for those working on contracts for five to 10 years, as well as housing and transport allowance amongst other benefits.
“The remaining employees are expected to vote today and tomorrow. After that, we will start counting the votes and decide what to do. If the majority voted against the strike, then there will be no strike. If the majorities are for the strike then it will happen,” Penda explained.
The unionist also said the NovaNam management might be planning a lockout, after learning that the employees are voting to strike.
“Most of the company vessels have been at the jetty since last week. We suspect that they are planning an indirect lockout. If it is a lockout, we need to know about it. Why are they keeping it a secret?” Penda demanded.
NovaNam attracted a lot of media attention last month, when one of nine sacked employees claimed that his pension money which was invested with Old Mutual Pension Fund was stolen.
This led to the uncovering of a scam, in which employees have lost an estimated N.dollars 1 121 258.
The uncovering of this scam led to the arrest of the Principal Medical Officer (PMO) for the Lüderitz Health District, Dr Davies Musonda Nkalamo, 49, NovaNam Human Resources’ Manager David Mwadhina Pokolo, 39, and Jesaya Titus Panduleni, 28.
Though Penda said the strike is against the poor employment conditions, he also admitted that the information about the scam has added to the frustration of the employees.
Efforts to get comments from NovaNam’s Factory General Manager, Juan Magdalena in Walvis Bay proved unsuccessful as he was attending a meeting on Monday.