By Mbatjiua Ngavirue
A surprising 90 out of 141 employees declared redundant at the Agricultural Bank of Namibia (Agribank) have reportedly accepted voluntary retrenchment packages and seem prepared to wave their jobs at the institution goodbye.
Another 49 employees opted to accept Agribank’s demand they re-apply for their old positions, or for alternative employment at the bank.
Only two holdouts, according to Agribank insiders, refused as a matter of principle to bend to Agribank’s demands, declining both voluntary retrenchment or re-applying for jobs at the bank.
When Agribank announced the mass redundancies, the move appeared unprecedented in Namibia for a financially solvent company.
Labour analysts expected the announcement to meet fierce resistance from both employees and the Namibian Financial Institutions Union (Nafinu).
The anticipated resistance, however, never materialised, leaving Nafinu’s hands tied after a majority of workers accepted voluntary retrenchment.
Sources familiar with the company say that Agribank had a comparatively highly qualified workforce.
This meant staff could accept the reasonable retrenchment packages, and at the same time find alternative employment at other companies relatively easily.
Agribank is apparently re-assessing the 49 staff that re-applied for employment at the bank in an ongoing process.
The company also recently advertised jobs externally, with applicants put through competency tests and face-to-face interviews to follow.
The two employees who refused to take the bank’s offer are reportedly negotiating separate termination benefits with the company.
Those that accepted retrenchment packages are working on a contract basis.
In early June, Nafinu declared a dispute with Agri-bank in terms of Section 74 of the Labour Act of 1992.
When the majority of staff accepted the company’s retrenchment packages, however, they basically waived their right to collective bargaining leaving Nafinu a mere bystander in the process.