Ex-NAC employees’ pension payout stallingBy: CATHERINE SASMAN
MORE than six months after 30 former employees of the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) accepted retrenchment, they are still awaiting their pension payouts from the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF).
The delay in the payouts was because of a dispute between the former workers and the NAC over the manner in which they were laid off.
The NAC has reportedly now given in and will foot the extra bill for the pension payouts from the GIPF. However, it could not established how much extra the NAC will have to pay.
It is believed that the top-up to the pension payouts could run into millions of dollars.
It is understood that the retrenched workers will be called in this week to accelerate the pension payouts, but this could not be confirmed by either the NAC or the GIPF.
The Namibian understands that the NAC was reluctant to provide the GIPF with sufficient documentation that the workers had indeed been retrenched, and were not retired or dismissed.
Retrenchment benefits far exceed resignation benefits, which would mean that the NAC will have to pay the GIPF any extra money due to the retrenched workers.
When asked about the delays, NAC human resource general manager Olavi Hamwele referred to a letter the airports company had written to the GIPF on August 15 in which it stated that claim forms had been submitted to the pension fund regarding the pension payouts.
The letter acknowledged that the pension claims could not be processed because the NAC had “not explicitly made its position known as to whether the claims are due to resignation or dismissal/retrenchment”.
It further stated that the company nevertheless confirmed “that the restructuring indeed resulted in the dismissal of the staff members who opted to separate from the company due to restructuring”.
Hamwele would not say anything on the retrenchment benefits due to the former employees, but merely stated that this matter is not for public consumption at this stage.
As far as the GIPF is concerned, the dispute between the former workers and the NAC regarding the reason of the termination of employment has been resolved.
“The fund has been waiting for the two parties to agree on what benefits could be claimed. Now that an agreement has been reached between NAC and its former employees, the fund shall assess the claims and effect benefits payments in terms of the existing rules and within a reasonable turn-about time,” said GIPF spokesman Elvis Nashilongo.
He stressed that the pension payout delay was entirely a matter between the NAC and its former employees.
“[The] fund has nothing to do with the delay in finalising the pension payment process. Our duty is to ensure that our operation is above board and that the interests of the fund and its shareholders are protected at all times,” Nashilongo said.
“Pension benefits are already defined in the rules [of the fund] and are not negotiable. Any benefit claim forwarded to the fund must therefore be dealt with in terms of the rules of the fund. Therefore, there is no negotiation between the fund and the NAC regarding pension packages. NAC has applied for and, in this context, we have been requesting NAC management to fully comply with the fund’s rules and to provide GIPF with all supporting documents.”
He said the NAC and its former employees were thus requested to reach an agreement on the type of benefit they are claiming before it can be processed by the GIPF.