By: Ludorf Iyambo
Clicks employees in Namibia are crying over linguistic abuse by the company management. The workers that are Oshiwambo, Herero, Rukwangali, and Silozi have come out to say that they are being mistreated in the company because they don’t speak Afrikaans.
The employees stated that 99 per cent of Clicks managers in the country are Damara, Baster, or Colored people and that other tribes are left out.
“When we have meetings, the opinions or points of those that don’t speak Afrikaans hardly get considered. Once we give our opinion or complain, we become a threat to the management. The management will begin to create minor problems to walk you out. Sometimes they even say straight in our eyes that they will make sure we lose our jobs so that the next person they employ will adhere to our rules,” a worker speaking on condition of anonymity told The Villager.
The workers told The Villager that the management no longer followed the company rules and regulations. They added that when they (workers) approach the leadership about what the company policy is, they become enemies.
They said the working environment is unhealthy for them, as they work in fear of losing their job every time. The workers claimed that in most cases, they get a warning for coming late by 2 minutes.
“As a Wambo, Herero, Kavango or Caprivian, and you arrive late by two minutes, you will get a warning, but this doesn’t happen to other tribes. A Damara can come late for an hour, but nothing will happen to them at all. Favouritism and tribalism are very high in Clicks,” said another employee of the retailer.
The workers further said that they do not have a representative workers union in the country. According to them, the management refused to choose a union for workers to exploit them. “There was a union which approached us and short-listed our names, but they keep on delaying the process,” said an employee.
The group of workers claim that some employees are being dismissed without warning or being taken to hearings. They said that as they work per shift, the management can decide that people have to work all the time and that no one is going home.
“What is painful is that we don’t get paid for that overtime. Some people are students. If, for instance, I am supposed to knock off at 5 to go to school, I will not attend classes anymore because the manager has decided,” they said.
They further said Clicks does not have a Human Resources office in Namibia. The offices where workers can submit their grievances are only in South Africa.
“We have tried to reach out to all the top people in the country, like the country manager, but there’s no difference. Even if our kids are ill, we are not being excused for one day to take the child to the hospital. They will tell you that is unacceptable. But other tribes can write a message that they are unavailable, but nothing will happen,” they said.
When approached for comment, Clicks country manager Chris Opperman said he would not answer any questions related to the allegations.
“We got internal HR policy which is called the grievance process. Every employee in Namibia got access to the grieves process; if they think they’re mistreated, it is HR that allows every employee to launch the grieves. I suggested if you have questions regarding this, I will link you to the legal team in South Africa because we currently don’t have a legal department in Namibia,” said Opperman.
Opperman further said he does not deal with journalists or media platforms. He added that the only media platforms he currently talks to in Namibia are the Republikein and the Namibian Sun dailies.