By Wezi Tjaronda
Meatco last week dismissed 21 employees who were found guilty of participating in the illegal strike in April, that cost the company close to half a million dollars in direct costs.
The company last week received the ruling of the disciplinary hearing held on May 15 for another 24 of 149 employees that took part in the strike.
The chairperson of the disciplinary hearing, Sisa Namandje, found 12 employees guilty of participating in the illegal strike and recommended they be dismissed from Meatco.
Manager: Corporate Communications, Uschi Ramakhutla, said in a statement last week that the final warnings they had obtained before the strike counted as aggravating evidence.
“Meatco issued and handed over letters of dismissal to the above 12 employees yesterday, 30 May 2007,” she said.
A further nine employees were found guilty of participating in the illegal strike but not guilty of intimidation, which was used as aggravating circumstances, but Meatco also issued and handed over letters for their dismissal last Wednesday, despite a recommendation from Namandje that they be issued with final written warnings valid for 12 months and a monthly fine of N$15 for the next 12 months.
“Meatco is of the opinion that the aggravating evidence is strong enough and warrants a dismissal,” Ramakhutla added.
Three of the 24 were found not guilty of participating in the illegal strike and are back at work.
The cases of the last five employees of the 149 accused of participating in the strike will be heard tomorrow. These consist of employees who were not present at any of the previous disciplinary hearings and had not pleaded yet, and also employees who pleaded not guilty and who have requested for their mitigating evidence to be heard.
A group of 119 employees admitted guilt and received final written warnings after the internal disciplinary hearing procedures that started on May 2. The company said as a matter of principle the workers agreed to pay a minimal amount to cover a certain percentage of the costs incurred because of their actions (N$15/month for 12 months).
The 23 were the only ones amongst 149 who pleaded guilty after being involved in the strike and resumed work on May 7.
The workers downed tools in protest against the suspension of a shop steward of the Namibia Wholesale and Retail Workers Union, Ebenhardt Kanguru, who allegedly assaulted his Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (NAFAWU) counterpart.
The group was angered by the company’s decision to stand by its decision to suspend Kanguru after Swartbooi withdrew the assault charges.
The two are said to have disagreed on the second day of negotiations over a salary increase of the workers that the two unions were negotiating on behalf of the workers considering that the employees belong to the two unions.
Meatco has gone back to slaughtering at full capacity and has introduced two Saturday shifts in order to catch up with the backlog.