NAFWU Raises concerns over retrenched farm workers.
Written by Enoke Kaumba on October 16, 2020
Farm workers who were retrenched without notice came to NAFWU (Namibia Farm workers union) at their Regional office in Rundu on the 18th of September 2020 seeking for help to their cries.
Sikondo irrigation green scheme Retrenched close to 23 of its contract workers without notice and paid them half of their salaries claiming that their contracts had expired and that there’s no money to pay or renew their contracts. The farm workers urged NAFWU to intervene. Simaho Seke, NAFWU’S acting Regional coordinator told Rapids FM that sikondo irrigational green scheme is a commercial scheme registered with Agribusdev.” There is no way the workers can be turned away just like that without their full payment”, Seke said “infact what they did is illegal”.
Most of the retrenched workers were told, while on duty, that their contracts had been terminated and that there’s no work for the at the green scheme anymore. This could not ring bells into the Farm workers ears as they have not been notified about their termination of their contracts not even a month before.
Raphael Kudumo has been working at the scheme since 2016 to 2019. “I started working as a forklift Driver than later I was transferred. It was on a busy day that I was called to the office where they told me they have no work for me at sikondo anymore “kudumo stressed. I was shocked. “I was shocked as I was never notified as when my contract with the company would expire”. Seke also said when the farm workers claimed to be paid for their work, they were turned back saying that their salaries would be settled in full but only half was paid. according to the findings of the union from an amount of N$ 297,734.52 only N$134 730.40 was paid out and N$ 164 503.85 still needs to be paid.
NAFWU also took a Research about the treatment of the workers at the green scheme, it leant that there are more complaints from the farm workers than what was already on the table. NAFWU Learnt that the employees work overtime but its unpaid. They also leant that employees leave days and compassionate leaves are changed to vocational leave (without pay)
More to the story, confirmed by Seke some workers have the same working positions but different salaries and workers work for more than five years but are still considered as temporary workers. “according to the law an employee can only work as a temporary worker for less or not more than 3 months, but they make workers to work for more than 3 months or for 5 years or more as temporary workers.” Seke said.
Another farm worker joseph haimbili said when he took his sick leave to the office his leave days where changed to vocational leave of which he did not understand. Haimbili said “They did not even consider explaining to me why they my sick leave days to vocational leaves and up to now its unpaid Mr. Michael Kadhila The head human resource officer at sikondo irrigation farm was contacted for comment, he said he is unaware of the situation and that he needs an official consultation to give an official response about the situation. “from my general knowledge about leave days and compassionate leaves being changed to vocational leaves we only do that if an employee has not provided us with proof of the sick leave.” Kadhila clarified with what is happening at skondo I’m unaware
In a letter seen by Rapids FM, NAFWU has given the sikondo green scheme until the 5th of November this year to settle all outstanding payments to workers and failure and failure to do so will lead to the union taking legal action.