LUDERITZ: About 300 employees of the NovaNam Fishing Company in Lüderitz who were accused of stealing fish from the company in June this year, have all been given their marching orders.
The employees, including 19 supervisors and general workers from the company’s production department, were fired on Monday.
They were found guilty of stealing 474 bags of fish from the company on 29 June this year.
Namibia Seamen and Allied Workers Union (Nasawu) branch organiser at Lüderitz, Petrus Shiyandja confirmed on Wednesday that the employees were informed of the decision through their respective unions on Monday.
The unionist said NovaNam took the internal decision to dismiss the employees on 28 September this year after disciplinary hearings on the matter were concluded.
“We are planning to appeal to the company today (Wednesday) to relook the matter. If the decision stays the same, then we might move on to the office of the Labour Commissioner,” Shiyandja said.
Other affected employees are affiliated to the Namibia Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Nafau).
What makes matters worse is the fact that some of the dismissed employees claim that they are innocent and were unfairly let go.
“Some of us are innocent, we did not steal any fish from NovaNam but we were fired. They should have punished those found with fish, not just everyone,” Theresia Shalimba, one of the employees who were given the boot, told Nampa in a telephonic interview on Wednesday.
When this news agency attempted to contact another dismissed employee, Emilia Kandume, her son Lukas Gebhard answered her phone and confirmed that his mother lost her job despite not being involved in the theft.
He said she has now been forced to start looking for other employment and is considering moving to northern Namibia to do so.
“My cousins who stay with us have to move to Windhoek to start school there, and I will stay here, the neighbours will take care of me,” said an emotional Gebhard, who is a Grade 10 learner.
A NovaNam employee who was not affected by the dismissals, and who asked not to be named, said most of the employees who were let go are apparently women who take care of school-going children.
He suggested that the workers should have rather received warnings or should have been made to pay for the stolen fish instead of being fired.
Meanwhile, Lüderitz Councillor Jan Scholtz has expressed concern about school-going children who might be affected by the fishing company’s decision as their parents now have no income.
He expressed his fear that some might even be forced to leave school due to their parents’ inability to, among other things, pay their school fees.
“It is really a sad situation. I am not saying people should steal, but I think the company should have found a better solution to this. Firing so many people is not the right move,” he stated.
Scholtz also noted that the economic situations of the town and country are in a state where such events should be avoided, saying there are already many unemployed people on the streets.
General Manager at NovaNam, David Pokolo could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.