Rumblings at Pamwe Trust

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By Francis Tsawayo Pamwe Trust, a non-governmental organisation, is embroiled in a labour dispute having terminated the contracts of close to 40 employees a year before they end. The majority of the 40 employees are based in the north at Tuli Pamwe while the rest belong to all the regional arms of the NGO that are Kara Pamwe in Rundu and Luha Moho in Katima Mulilo, and only two employees have gone back at each centre. The matter is said to have set off when the employees were notified on the 30th of June that their contracts had expired which was to their surprise as their tenure was to 14 April 2007. On the 20th of July the Metal and Allied Namibia Workers Union (MANWU) called for a meeting with the Board of Trustees to address the issue and it was at this meeting that investigations by the union brought to light that the former director Erastus Kaishungu had made a mistake, branch organiser of MANWU Haimbili Martis told New Era. The former director and the board of trustees acknowledged the error, New Era was informed. Martis noted that it was only after the meeting that he started to suspect foul play on the part of the board of trustees as they changed their grounds for the ” unfair dismissals” from that of expired contracts to that the organisation was restructuring. Regardless of what the reasons are, Martis advised that correct procedures be adhered to. It was at this meeting that a short-lived resolution was made that saw the employees receiving letters of reinstatement on the 28th of July, only to be served with a notification of termination of service on the 30th of July 2006. The board of directors is also believed to have granted permission to the acting director Jerry Beukes to issue the notices, acting upon the recommendations made by Kouplinger. According to Martis, the union’s efforts to create a platform for negotiating have yielded no resolution as the board of trustees has declined to negotiate with the union but instead referred them to their lawyer. Martis also revealed that the employees approached the Ministry of Education for assistance but only to discover that the ministry had signed an agreement to fund the institution to 2010 for an amount of $N8-million. “Currently some employees have been made to sign new contracts and have been reinstated, behind the back door, while the rest are still at home with no retrenchment packages,” Martis made known. It was also revealed that in the deed of trustees the tenure for members of the board of trustees should be three years but most of the trustees have been occupying office for over six years, New Era was informed by a reliable source. Though not much information has been communicated to the employees, speculation claims the public institute is making way for sub-contractors who will take up the task of building schools for the Ministry of Education. Efforts by New Era to get comment from the Pamwe Trust offices were fruitless as the male voice that answered the phone said “no comment” and put the phone down after being briefed on the reason that had motivated the call. Of the two employees left at the Windhoek office, one is believed to be the acting director Jerry Beukes. Pamwe is an NGO that was established by the Africa Groups of Sweden, the Swedish Embassy and the Ministry of Education to transform and assist self-help projects in the regions. As of 1999 the institute has received funding, mostly from the Ministry of Education, to build and develop educational infrastructure.