Salini asks suspended workers to resign

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Matheus Hamutenya

Keetmanshoop-The suspended Salini workers have been asked to resign voluntarily, with the company offering to pay them a one month’s salary and offer them good testimonials for future use. Salini is contracted to build the N$2.4 billion Neckartal Dam near Keetmanshoop in the //Kharas Region.

The disolicnary hearings that have been dragging on since the suspension of the workers in July last year for their alleged involvement in an illegal strike are set to be finalised today, if all goes according to plan.

Initially, about 40 employees faced disciplinary procedures, but that number has over the months decreased as the contracts of some workers expired in the course of the proceedings. It is said there are currently about 25 workers still facing disciplinary hearings.

New Era understands that lawyers representing the company offered the workers an exit package of one month’s salary and a good testimonial for each worker, so that they can resign voluntarily – an offer the workers are said to have vehemently rejected.
Some workers New Era spoke to called the offer from the company as “an insult”, saying it is unbelievable that a big company, like Salini, would put such an offer on the table.
Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union regional branch organiser Emerentia Riekert confirmed that the company made such an offer to the suspended workers earlier this week and that the workers have rejected the offer.

“Yes, the company has asked the workers to voluntary resign and get one month’s salary and a good testimonial. However, the workers have rejected that, so we’re still proceeding with the hearing,” she said. She, however, declined to divulge further information, as discussions are still ongoing.

Contacted for comment, project manager Fabrizio Lazzarin could not deny nor confirm the company’s offer, saying he is yet to be briefed on the outcome of the hearing by the lawyers.

“I still have to get in touch with the lawyers who are dealing with the hearing, so I cannot reply to you instantaneously. I do not know what the outcome of the hearing is so I cannot say anything,” he said.

The workers have been on suspension with pay since July 2016 for their alleged involvement in an illegal strike staged in June last year, where workers locked the entrance to the dam and brought all operations to a standstill. The strike reportedly cost N$2 million per day in losses over a period of five days.

The workers during the protest demanded that a project labour agreement signed by the company and union be fully implemented, that salary discrepancies be rectified with immediate effect, and further called for the termination of the contract of the industrial relations officer, Michaelino Kadikwa.

The workers further demanded fair and procedural recruitment and an end to the reported abuse of workers’ rights, as well as the reinstatement of those workers whose contracts were allegedly terminated unfairly.

Further demands were that the company stop irregular suspensions and reinstate shopstewards that were on suspension. They also wanted all expatriates occupying positions that can be occupied by Namibians to be deported.

The workers returned to work after five days of toy-toying, as the company obtained a court interdict against the strike, ordering the workers to immediately cease their industrial action and return to work.

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