Marble workers petition against legal officer
27 October 2020 | Labour
Last Wednesday, employees of BC Stone Products Namibia handed over a petition to the company’s management, highlighting grievances pertaining to its legal officer.
The Chinese-owned marble processing company operates in Walvis Bay and Karibib.
According to shop steward chairman Ndunda Benhard, they feel threatened by the presence and the actions of Chris Theron.
“Three of our colleagues have been unfairly dismissed because of him. We have another colleague whose disciplinary hearing is ongoing and we do not know what will happen to him,” Benhard said.
According to him, they engaged the company on several occasions regarding Theron’s behaviour, but to no avail.
“We also engaged the former Erongo governor when we invited him to attend a disciplinary hearing as an observer when one of our colleagues was unfairly dismissed. Yet, the legal officer was not shaken by this move.”
The employees accuse Theron of calling them “empty black rolling tyres”.
“He has a tendency to tell us that we like to be spoon-fed. He told the shop stewards that he is fed up and tired of their nonsense and took a decision to ruin our wage negotiations. He is aggressive towards the shop stewards, and does not act with impartiality and integrity when conducting disciplinary hearings. His emotions always get the better of him.”
The employees believe Theron is not fit to be a legal officer.
Benhard said they want their employers to treat the petition as a matter of urgency. “We demand that Theron stop dealing with issues that have to do with the employees of BC Stone Products or to deal with anything that may influence decisions or any policies pertaining to the workers. We are giving the company 72 hours to address this issue. Failure to do so will result in unrest.”
‘Not fit to do his job’
In a letter to company management by Joseph Garoeb, deputy secretary-general of the Mining, Metal, Maritime and Construction Union, dated 17 August, workers are demanding the removal of Theron “because he is not fit to do his job”.
“Since he joined the company, many things have been going in the wrong direction. Issues pertaining to retrenchment and dismissals as well as the relationship between the employer, the union and the workers has become strained.”
Meanwhile, in response, human resource manager Lovina Plato on 20 August wrote that their concerns regarding Theron had been noted.
“Procedures require that should employees have grievances with co-workers, whether they are management or not, they are free to raise their concerns through the grievance procedure.”
Plato, however, added that the union should note that to demand the company to remove any person without a valid and fair reason or without a disciplinary case where the employee was dismissed is unlawful, and that the company will not adhere to such demands.
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