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TransNamib Workers To Down Tools In 48 Hours

Staff Writer

TransNamib has now been hit by a looming strike action as workers overwhelmingly voted for an industrial action demanding salary raises despite management saying there is no money.

The strike is set to commence on Wednesday this week, with the Namibia Transport and Allied Workers Union (NATAWU) confirming that they have slapped the employer with a notice of 48 hours.

Negotiations will still be open until the hours lapse.

Despite pleadings from the TransNamib board and chief executive officer, 726 workers voted for strike action out of 788 total votes, with 22 voting against and 40 spoiling the ballot.

This is all out of a total workforce of 1 024 in the bargaining unit.

“The 48-hour notice has been served to the company for the commencement of strike. The strike is set to take place on Wednesday, 17th of August 2022 at 12H00,” said Helvi Hamukoshi, NATAWU national coordinator.

In the meantime, the company’s Manager: Corporate Communications, Abigail Raubenheimer, said TransNamib has a contingency plan in place.

“But the fact remains that the industrial action will negatively impact our operations and disrupt the normal scheduled train services, for the duration of this planned industrial action, of which the end date is not known.”

“As a responsible corporate entity, we will try and provide essential train services to those key and strategic commodities and routes; within our operational capabilities. The Staff and Management of TransNamib, with the support of the shareholder, will endeavour to work to resolve this matter with the urgency it rightfully deserves.”

“We will keep you abreast of all developments relating to this impasse. We would like to extend our assurance and sincerest apologies for the inconvenience this unfortunate event will cause our customers and stakeholders.”

NATAWU Secretary General (SG), Narina Poolman, decried that the company has maintained there is no money while over 15 executives were sent to different towns and booked into hotels.

“So, it means there is money, let them come to the table, there is money. Yes, indeed, they have insulted the workers. We tried, by all means, to be lenient. On many occasions, we tried to find amicable solutions for this matter not to get out of hand.”

“In a meeting that we had on the 17th, the chairperson made promises. In that meeting we had a very fruitful meeting. But thereafter, they went back and wrote a letter which was insulting. The way they answered. We put a lot of demands with regards the Ernst and Young (EY) report which they are sitting on.”

“The same executives that were sitting on this matter are the ones that are implicated in the report, and we asked of them for that report to be released because we are custodians. We asked the ministry to investigate these allegations. Why are these people so untouchable? Why are they so untouchable? And we were informed by the chairperson that these are just rumours in the media, yet they do not deny that the report exists. That’s why we said this is insulting,” she said.

The EY report, leaked to the media, recommended that disciplinary action must be taken against employees and executives who failed to meet their performance indicators at the entity.

Reports are that non-performing executives were taking home N$100 000 monthly in salaries, N$15 000 car allowance and N$6 000 fuel allowance.

The top guns are said to have also been awarded performance bonuses without performance management reports.

“MPE and/or the board could consider recovering the ostensibly irregular and unauthorised payment of performance bonuses from the relevant beneficiaries,” said EY in its dossier.

The board chairperson retreated from talking deeply about the report a few weeks ago when confronted with the questions by journalists.

Labour research expert Hebert Jauch said what has triggered this strike is that some months ago, TransNamib big wigs awarded themselves handsome bonuses.

“And when you do that and then claim that there is no money and when the dire financial straits are well known, and still the company just goes ahead, and does something like paying themselves bonuses and then expecting staff members to just keep quiet you end up like that. So, I am not at all surprised by the strike ballot. If the strike will be a success or not, that is another question altogether,” he said.

Staff Writer

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