Boss comes to the party for staff

29 April 2020 | Disasters

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK

With the threat of widespread retrenchments looming, some businesses are going the extra mile to make sure their employees and their families are cared for during the ongoing coronavirus lockdown and state of emergency.

Mariette Kraak, the owner of the I-Fun Family Entertainment in Windhoek, said they have had sleepless nights since the first coronavirus in the country case was announced in March.

The business, which has other branches at Swakopmund and Ondangwa, has turned to extended family to provide food parcels and N$250 to staff for unforeseen expenses.

“We cancelled our two-year-old’s kindergarten as well as afternoon lessons for our older children. It just does not make sense for me to live in luxury when our workers are down and out. Some of these workers earn little and must still use this salary to support four households. It is heartbreaking,” Kraak said.

Smaller cut

While businesses may be able to cut employee wages by up to 50% (in consultation with unions and workers) in order to survive the pandemic, Kraak said they decided on 25% instead, and will also retain their temporary staff.

The decision to provide the food parcels was born out of a call from one of their employees on a Sunday morning.

The employee asked for money, as his family had nothing to eat.

Dire situation

“We then realised the seriousness of the matter. He even said he did not want to cause us discomfort. So, we decided to pack him a grocery bag from the supplies we had at home, and while we chatted with him, we realised the same was true for the other workers, but they felt too ashamed to ask,” she said.

They reached out to family overseas and a business partner, who donated N$50 000 and N$10 000 respectively.

This money was used for food and other basic utilities such as electricity.

According to Kraak, they only expect to break even again in November.

Last week, labour ministry executive director Bro-Matthew Shinguadja cautioned employers that employees should not lose their jobs for at least 28 days after the lockdown ends.

[email protected]

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