Etale offers former casuals a raw dealBy: SELMA SHIPANGA
ETALE Fishing has offered around 400 former casual workers a three-month contract with salaries around N$660 less than they used to earn under labour hire.
The casual workers have expressed unhappiness with the employment contract the fishing company offered them last week after the amended Labour Act came into effect on August 1.
The Act compels companies who recruit staff through labour brokers not to offer employment conditions that are worse than those offered to permanent staff in comparable positions.
Of concern to the more than 400 employees who were previously employed through a labour-hire company is the N$7,83 hourly rate Etale offered to pay them. The workers are calling this amount “daylight robbery”.
Both the Namibia Seamen and Allied Workers Union (Nasawu) and the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) in the Erongo Region have described the offer as too low.
“Compared to how much the rest of the industry is paying, that amount is low. The amount the industry has determined and which is paid by other companies is about N$11 or N$12 per hour. We are not happy with that,” said Erkkie Shitana, secretary general of Nasawu.
It means that at 40 hours per week, the workers will earn N$660 less than the rest.
Also of concern to the workers is the condition stipulated in the contract that “there will be no renewal of this contract or continuation thereof beyond the completion date”, which is October 31 this year.
“Again, as a union, we are not happy with that condition. We feel that we are duty bound to negotiate with the company on behalf of such workers,” said Shitana.
Shitana said in the next week or two, Nasawu would ask the company to change some of the conditions set out in the contract, adding that the union in the meantime has advised such workers to sign the contract for the sake of securing their employment with the company.
Nafau branch organiser Lister Tawana said his union was seeking an appointment with the Etale management “to see if they will at least increase the rate”.
“Workers are desperate for work but this is not right,” he said.
Efforts to get comment from Etale managing director Bobboh Kathindi last week proved futile. The Namibian is informed Kathindi has since left the company. Charl Dreyer is currently acting as MD but said he could not comment. He told The Namibian the company’s board could also not respond at the moment, as “they’re out of the country”.