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Councillor Calls For Ministerial Intervention … as dismissed Rundu Cash and Carry workers plead for fair treatment

By:Annakleta Haikera
Rundu Rural constituency councillor has resolved to seek intervention from the ministry of labour, industrial relations and employment creation on the dispute involving the Rani Group of Companies and its employees
Councillor Paulus Mbangu yesterday called on the ministry to intervene in the poor working conditions and low wages of workers employed by some industries.
This comes after about 200 employees who were working for the Rani Group of Companies were dismissed in December in Rundu in the Kavango East region. The employees, joined by community members, held a mass demonstration last week to hand their grievance petition to the Kavango East governor Bonifatius Wakudumo.
Mbangu told The Villager that employers are taking advantage of peoples’ poverty and rights.
“The office of the labour ministry in the region is not touched by this situation, that is why as a council, we are going to sit at the end of this month to discuss this issue that involves workers suffering at the hands of their employers. It is not only Cash and Carry, but Chinese shops are equally running their businesses and mistreating their employees,” he charged.
Meanwhile, a letter dated Monday, 16 January, signed by Kleapas Daniel who is chairman of the Rani Group says the strike was illegal and contrary to the provisions of the Labour Act. He said the striking employees refused lawful instruction to return to work as well as communication requesting collection of notices were produced and no one disputed as employees were absent.
“I am satisfied that the company followed all procedures. I was also satisfied that the strike was illegal and that employees refused lawful instructions to return to work,” Daniel said.
“All employees who took part in the strike of 28 December 2022 are found guilty as charged,” he added.
In their petition, the former employees of Rani Group said they were treated unfairly and accused the company of violating human rights.
The workers demanded that the “unprocedural” and “unfair dismissals” be investigated by the office of the labour commissioner.
They also demanded that Rani Group provide copies of all the employees’ contracts of employment who were alleged to have participated in a demonstration, resulting in their suspension without pay.
The workers also called on the ministry of health and social services and the Rundu Town Council to routinely send their health inspectors to come around to conduct health inspections.
“If need be, when an irregularity is found to revoke the fitness certificate of these shops without any negotiations in accordance with the law,” the group appealed.
As per the requirements of the Labour Act, the workers demanded that the employer keep a record current for the most recent five years in the prescribed manner, containing the name, sex, age, and occupation of each employee.
When approached for comment, Rex Rani directed all queries to Gottlieb Ndjendjela through whose company the employees were hired.
His agency, known as Employees Placement Services Namibia CC (EPSN), is the middleman between employers and employees.
Upon inquiry, Ndjendjela told The Villager the workers were not dismissed.
He also said he could not answer any questions on the matter as he did not receive the petition, for him to see what was written in it.
“Ask the governor where the petition was handed to,” he insisted.
Ndjendjela is a businessman and Tsumeb constituency councillor, who recently received widespread criticism over his recruitment agency, which allegedly takes large chunks of income earned by workers who are placed by the company in retail outlets.
In the recent past, the agency had faced damning criticism from Affirmative Repositioning (AR) Movement, and was labelled as being exploitative for pilfering workers’ pay as it also disburses salaries.

Annakleta Haikera

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