Two representatives of the Namibia Fishing Industries and Fisherman Workers Union are facing the prospect of criminal charges opened against them after several fishermen accused them of putting their signatures on resignation papers without their consent.
This is contained in a letter by Metcalfe Beukes Attorneys to the secretary general of the union dated the 29th of September 2022.
About 58 of 612 employees who resigned from various fishing joint ventures have said they never signed any resignation papers as pupated by the union.
All these were employed by Hodago (Pty) Ltd, Kuiseb (Pty) Ltd and Cavema Fishing (Pty) Ltd, Camoposatu Investments (Pty) Ltd and Vernier Investments (Pty) Ltd).
After one Godfried Kuhanga and another Fillipus Shimwooshili gave notice of the resignation of 612 workers, the joint ventures then approached lawyer, Richard Metcalfe, decrying that the workers still owned them a month’s salary.
They have also said that some of the so-called resigned workers have notified that they never signed any resignation papers.
Consequently, the union has been threatened with legal action over possible fraud while the matter is said to be under investigations.
The lawyer said that each of his clients entered into designation agreements with the ministry of fisheries and marine resources, and that of labour.
These agreements were meant for the creation of jobs for fishing industry employees who had been dismissed after the 2015 illegal strike.
These have now designated themselves as the Okapare Ex-Striking Fishermen and some of them included some Namsov retrenched employees.
According to the lawyer, these designation agreements were conducted for 2020 and 2021 and were valid for a period of a year.
“To facilitate the creation of employment, our clients as fishing rights holders, were given a specified amount of fish quota per employee,” said the lawyer.
He also said that the following number of fishing industry employees were accommodated by his clients, 264 employees under Kuiseb Fishing Enterprises and Hodago Fishing (JV), 371, 186 and 185 employees respectively under Camoposatu Investments and Vernier Investment (JV) as well as 274 employees under Cavema Fishing and Rainbow Fishing (JV).
“All these employees were employed by our clients on fixed term contracts with clear provision of one month’s notice of termination of employment on resignation of any such employee. On 29 August 2022, notice of… “resignation from companies mentioned below effective immediately…” was received from Mr. Godfried Kuhanga purporting to act as chairperson of Okapare Ex-Striking Fishermen and Mr. Fillipus Shimwooshili purporting to act as chairperson of shop-stewards,” said the lawyer.
The lawyer said the chairperson of Okapare Ex-striking Fishermen summarily terminated the employment of 398 employees.
Consequently, the chairperson of Shop-stewards immediately and summarily terminated the employment of 223 employees.
Metcalf said, “This is an astounding 612 employees who allegedly terminated their employment with our clients.”
He added, “The effect thereof is that such employees owe our clients one-month’s salary in lieu of their failure to provide 30 days’ notice of termination of their employment. Simply put, these employees are no longer employed by our clients and you no longer represent persons not employed by our clients.”
“The unemployment hell into which you (are) purported to (have) cast 612 members of your union is further compounded by the fact that a number of these union members have approached our clients to advise that the signatures appearing are not theirs and that they have not resigned.”
“This misrepresentation by Messrs Shimwooshili and Kuhanga which has caused prejudice and/or potential prejudice to the former employees and/or our clients amounts to the criminal offense of fraud. The fraud will be reported to the Namibian police and will be pursued to prosecution.”
“Each and every employee who avers that it is not his/her signature will retain their employment on condition that a sworn affidavit in respect of such fraud is provided to the Namibian police,” said the lawyer.
His clients have also accorded that all shop stewards who terminated their employment due to the resignation will no longer be recognized.
If they continue to portray themselves as such, criminal charges will be opened against them relating to fraud, said the lawyer.
“As far as the Namibian Fishing Industries Fishermen Workers Union is concerned, it is respectfully advised that our clients will not negotiate with you in respect of the 612 former employees who have resigned. You can not represent persons who are not employed by their own termination of employment with our client. It is simple logic and the law.”
“Our client employed 1 110 employees. With the resignation of 612 employees and with the apparent fraud perpetrated by persons whom the union appointed as its shop stewards, you are requested to provide proof that you still represent the remaining 502 employees as 560 employees aver that they want nothing to do with the Namibia Fishing Industries and Fisherman Workers Union and/ or its shop stewards,” said the lawyer.