Coastal firm defies 2011 labour ruling

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WALVIS BAY – Forty-eight security guards retrenched by Pefimbo Trader in 2011 have accused their former employer of failing to abide by a labour ruling to pay them outstanding salaries amounting to N$137 595.

The guards accuse the labour ministry of dragging its feet for three years to compel Pefimbo Trader to pay the N$137 595 owed to the 48 guards.

The security guards of whom some were employed for more 10 years at the company were awarded the settlement by labour arbitrator Onno Angula in Swakopmund on August 23 2011 after they were retrenched by the now defunct Pefimbo Traders.

The funds should have been paid before September 23 2011 with interest of 20 percent per annum.

Despite the settlement being awarded no payout has been made to any of the 48 beneficiaries.

According to the settlement agreement in New Era’s possession, Pefimbo Traders represented by Jaco de Villiers, one of the co-owners, claimed the company closed down due to financial constraints and could not pay the guards their dues, which resulted in the employees being retrenched.

John Uushona, from the Namibia Transport and Allied Workers Union (Natau) that is representing the workers, said that during the hearing the union had demanded severance pay plus a month’s housing allowance to be paid to all employees.

The document indicates that two other business members of Pefimbo Traders, namely a certain Frank Vries and Johannes Kashindenge, also experienced financial difficulties to such an extent that their individual sureties amounting to N$400 000 were seized by a bank.

One of the affected former guards who served the company for 10 years, Johannes Ausiku, told New Era they have lost faith in the country’s legal system as it has apparently failed to enforce the arbitrator’s ruling.

“How long must we still wait to get our money? These people were supposed to be held accountable by the legal system and all necessary ways and means must have been exploited so that we receive our money,” lamented a disgruntled Ausiku.

Natau said it did everything in its power to ensure the settlement was in favour of employees. “The case was left in the hands of the labour inspectors and all the necessary information was forwarded to make sure the workers received their money,” Uushona explained.

He said the legal system has failed to enforce many similar rulings and this frustrates the unions.

“At this stage we don’t know whether these people are still in the country or whether they have property that could have been seized and auctioned to make sure the workers receive their money,” he added.

The labour office in Walvis Bay could not provide any answers as no official was available to explain what has been done to help the workers.

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