Kayec fires 11 striking workers

Windhoek-Katutura Youth Enterprise Centre (Kayec) management has fired eleven of its instructors that were on an illegal strike since mid-2016. The strikers had not heeded repeated calls to report for work and a disciplinary hearing early this month thus found them guilty of misconduct.

In a notice served on workers the Kayec human resources manager Johan Visagie said the instructors were formally suspended from work on full pay and benefits on January 25 this year pending a disciplinary hearing in respect of serious allegations of misconduct, and to allow the complainant to complete a full investigation. It was thus at the hearing that took place on February 3 that eleven instructors were found guilty of misconduct and immediately sacked from work.

The dismissal comes days after the Labour Court ruled that the ongoing strike by seventeen Kayec instructors that started in the middle of 2016 was illegal and unprotected.

The striking instructors' spokesperson Donald Kuhanga yesterday confirmed to New Era that they were fired from work after the formal disciplinary enquiry. He was however quick to say that they appealed to the labour commissioner against their dismissal.

He also said that initially they (the strikers) were seventeen in total but some had resigned before the suspension and found employment elsewhere.

Although the instructors were suspended with full pay and benefits, they were ordered to return all company property and equipment, including but not limited to information technology equipment, security access cards, all access keys, company petrol cards, vehicles, mobile phones and any goods belonging to Kayec.

They were also not allowed to enter the company premises or make contact with any employee or client of Kayec during, or out of, working hours without Visagie's approval.

Arbitrator Kyllikki Sihlahla early January ordered the seventeen instructors to return to work this week, saying the Namibia National Teachers' Union (Nantu), which is the union representing the instructors, had failed to follow lawful procedures before calling the strike.

"In light of the events that preceded the current strike, it [is] clear that there is an unfair labour practice on the part of Nantu, as they are negotiating in bad faith," Sihlahla said in his ruling.

Further, he said the union issued a second notification for further industrial action in terms of the collective agreement, but the notification was supposed to be given five days prior to the commencement of industrial action. It was issued only four days before, contrary to the provisions of the recognition agreement.

This, according to him, amounted to the subversion of orderly collective bargaining and an unfair labour practice.

In conclusion, Sihlahla found Nantu to be in breach of the recognition agreement and that the industrial action led by Nantu was consequently illegal.

Instructors at the non-profit organisation that was founded in 1994 took to the streets mid-2016 to demand a 10 percent salary increment across the board, plus improved fringe benefits.

Last year New Era reported that a Kayec director earned N$72 139 per month, his deputy director N$34 859 and the human resources manager N$33 699. A monitoring and evaluation officer grossed N$22 632 a month, while a communication officer earned N$21 674.

The instructors and trainers are aggrieved and feel they do their jobs to the best of their ability and more, yet take home only N$6 322 per month, little more than the Kayec cleaners who earn N$5 528 per month.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia