Striking Game employees claim intimidation

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After 41 employees at Game's Windhoek branch voted in favour of a strike only these three people showed up yesterday to take part in the industrial action. The representative union is claiming intimidation and victimization by the store's management, which they say resulted in a poor turnout for the strike.

WINDHOEK – Employees at Game Namibia are claiming intimidation, victimization and a disregard for the law by management of the store. Employees represented by the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) at both the Windhoek and Oshakati branches embarked on a strike on Sunday, October 21, after a certificate of unresolved dispute was issued by the Office of the Labour Commissioner during the conciliation meeting on September 11.

Workers are demanding an increase of N$490, representing an increase of 15 percent on their basic salary of N$2 190, as well as housing and transport allowances. However, only about three people showed up for the strike in Windhoek yesterday morning, compared to more than 40 people who showed up for the strike at Game in Oshakati. This is after 41 employees at the Windhoek branch and 35 employees at the Oshakati branch last week Wednesday voted in favour of the strike. Employees had apparently voted twice in favour of the strike before the industrial action was implemented.

According to the Nafau shop steward at Game’s Windhoek branch, Erastus Nakamwe, the poor turnout in Windhoek was as a result of intimidation by the store’s management. “They are calling in the employees one by one and they are bringing letter after letter for us to sign. They are also telling workers that they will lose their jobs and claiming that those on strike who manage to keep their jobs will from now on work in very difficult conditions,” claimed Nakamwe. The shop steward further alleged that the company has employed the services of casual workers to mitigate the effects of the strike. “This goes against the recognition agreement that the union has with the company, which states that they are not allowed to bring in new employees to avert the effects of the strike,” continued Nakamwe.

After no response was received when requesting clarification via e-mail from Game Windhoek’s store manager Riaan White, this reporter decided to call White on the company’s landline. But White responded curtly: “I have nothing to say to you.” Needless to say this is but a glimpse of the pompous attitude that Game Namibia’s employees have to face on a daily basis.

In fact, the only communication received from Game Namibia yesterday was a fax offering after hours Christmas shopping during late November to service industry staff.

Additional claims by striking employees, particularly at the Oshakati branch, include racism, favouritism, a refusal to pay out tax refunds and assertions that some employees cannot claim maternity benefits from the Social Security Commission. Any attempts to hear the company’s side of the story were negated by White’s refusal to comment on the matter.

 

 

By Edgar Brandt

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