The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources has been given an ultimatum by close to 200 employees who are owed about N$7million in overtime, which accumulated from unpaid monies since January this year.
The employees who had a sit down at Walvis Bay last week told the permanent secretary who has been evading them that will go on strike if their needs are not met.
Fisheries Policy, Planning and Economics Vice Chairperson and Director Anna Erastus told The Villager that people who are required to work over-time are not doing their job within the given framework.
Erastus was acting as the Permanent Secretary in Dr Moses Maurihungirire’s absence.
The Villager understands that the ministry signs quarterly contracts with these employees as they form part of the operation body of the ministry, and in those contracts different overtime terms are agreed upon.
When The Villager asked if the ministry is planning on attending to the payments of overtime, she said: “We have priority areas that we address. These include salaries that they are getting every month so why do they only focus on overtime while they can focus on salaries that they are getting every month.”
Erastus informs that the ministry engaged the employees a week ago at Walvis Bay to discuss the matter.
However no conclusion was made on pending payments, and employees presented the ministry with a deadline for 13 October, threatening to go on strike.
“Regarding what is happening with the economy, it is a bit unstable, but every ministry has priority areas.
"We are not only handling the overtime issue but all the areas of priority. We have credit issues as well but if they want to go on strike because of over time then I do not know,” Erastus said.
The employees have told The Villager that they have been told that there is no money to pay for their overtime, as they continue to put in more overtime hours for free.
“I had a severely heated debate with some members of the management who still advance the notion of over not being a priority.
"The PS apparently gave instructions that the finance department should try at least to pay 50% of the overtime but the feedback received is that there is no money for overtime payment,” an employer informed The Villager.
The employees have questioned why the ministry allowed them to put in overtime hours with the knowledge that there is not any money to pay for the extra hours put in.
“I understand the PS will communicate to us by the 13th. We should now take a serious stand and fight this useless management,” the source said.
The Villager made efforts to contact minister Bernhard Esau and the permanent secretary Moses Maurihungirire who were not in the office and were not available on their mobile phones.