Businessman to Sue NUNW Boss

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By Emma Kakololo WINDHOEK Owner of the Magic & Jumbo Discounters, Poena Olivier who is alleged to have abused employees, has instituted legal action against the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) Deputy Secretary General Evilastus Kaaronda for calling him a “Boer” and a racist. In a press statement issued on Monday, Kaaronda responding to the allegations of abuse levelled against Olivier said he was certain that the company (Magic & Jumbo Discounters) was either owned or managed by “racist Boers” or both, who were against the Affirmative Action Act and only favoured fellow whites. Complaints ranging from physical assault, verbal abuse, no leave benefits, and workers being arbitrarily dismissed for allegedly speaking loudly, among others, were made by the workers, prompting the union’s response. The NUNW on Monday called for the withdrawal of the trading licence of Magic & Jumbo Discounters due to the allegations levelled against it. The company has plants at Walvis Bay, Oshakati, Henties Bay and Ondangwa. “The workers suffered and endured direct infringement of their fundamental human rights and we call on Government to intervene and have the rights of these workers restored and laws observed,” Kaaronda stated. “The NUNW strongly believes that this company especially its management in Walvis Bay where most of the complaints originated, is either owned or managed by racist Boers or both, who have taken it upon themselves to go against the Affirmative Action Act by only promoting the upward mobility or vertical integration of their fellow whites,” he said. However, when approached for comment, owner Olivier said he had laid a civil suit against Kaaronda. “I made a civil case against Kaaronda for calling me a Boer. He cannot make allegations that are not true and then start calling me a racist. I am not a farmer. If he starts calling me names, what if I start calling other names,” he fumed. On the allegations of abuse, he said: “I told them (workers) if the allegations are true, nothing is holding them from making a case with the police. They know their allegations are not true, that’s why they cannot go to the police.” Olivier said if he had really lifted his hand against one of his workers, that would have been enough evidence and reason to make a report to the police. Kaaronda in the press statement said the union has for a long time keenly observed the labour relations at Magic & Jumbo Discounters business plants in Walvis Bay, Oshakati, Henties Bay and Ondangwa and although the union had relayed the workers’ complaints to the Ministry of Labour it has not received any satisfactory feedback from the ministry. “The official of the Ministry of Labour with whom these complaints were registered, has successfully failed to fully comply with section 104 of the Labour Act, Act 6 of 1992. They have further failed to fully follow the Occupational Health and Safety regulations as all labour relations problems and those related to health and safety have not been addressed and/or resolved despite the endless cries from the workers of this company. “Given the gross violations of workers’ rights at this company, the NUNW cannot help but be disturbed if not flabbergasted by the apparent lack of interest on the part of the Government to intervene and have the rights of these workers restored and laws observed, ” he stated further. Further commenting on the claims, Olivier said the Ministry of Labour after its investigations also found the allegations baseless. However the union decided not to comment and wants to cause havoc despite knowing that the allegations are false. The Senior Labour Inspector of Erongo Region was not available for comment by the time of going to press.