…Union dogged by unfair labour practices
By Confidente Reporter
CHAOS erupted at the country’s oldest union offices, Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) in Katutura recently when its embattled general secretary Jacob Penda reportedly beat up his female subordinate amid failed attempts to have her demoted and transferred to a regional branch without following proper procedures.
Co-workers who witnessed the incident said that Penda laid hands on verification administrator, Valeria Haikela by throttling her to an extent that she vomited. This reportedly happened within seconds after the union leader failed to stop Haikela from entering her office last Thursday without valid reason. It also comes as the country is battling increased cases of gender based violence (GBV) against women.
When Confidente arrived at Nafau’s offices at the time of the incident, two police officers and Job Munjaro -secretary general of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) to which Nafau is affiliated- had also arrived while Penda had locked himself in his office for several hours. His victim was hurdled up in a corner clearly in shock before she was sent to hospital for examination. Hours later she opened a case of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm on CR280/12/2016 against her boss filed at the Katutura Police Station. Police on Tuesday said that investigations into the matter are underway. Speaking to Confidente moments after the incident, Haikela who evidently traumatised from the way she trembled said that Penda was busy locking up her office when she arrived for duty. When he failed, he reportedly pushed her aside before throttling her.
“When I arrived he was putting a padlock to my office. I asked him why he was doing that and as I struggled to get into the office he pushed me aside before throttling me with so much force that I even vomited,” Haikela said. Asked why she thinks her boss attacked her, Haikela said, “I don’t know.” She however added that there are claims that Penda wanted to demote her from her position as a verification officer to a branch organiser and have her transferred to a regional branch. These she said are plans that were not communicated to her. Meanwhile, the union’s president Mike Karupu when contacted for comment said that a hearing is likely the way forward against Penda after they establish what transpired that Thursday morning. “We acknowledge the problem and what will happen now is that we’ll come together and look into the matter. As Nafau we have our constitution and we will have to follow procedures before we can say anything to the media. However a hearing will ensue depending on our findings,” Karupu said. Efforts to get comment from Penda proved futile as his mobile rang unanswered. He also did not respond to a text message sent to him at the time of going to print. Last week, at least 20 disgruntled Nafau workers staged a peaceful demonstration, marching to the union’s headquarters to deliver a strongly-worded petition in which they outlined their frustrations.
The demonstration follows mass accusations of unfair labour practices, favouritism, intimidation and exploitation of workers under Penda’s rule. They were however snubbed with a no-show by Penda, while union doors were literally slammed in their faces. They read out their petition to closed doors of the union offices.
The petition follows numerous cases of unfair treatment the workers reportedly experienced on a daily basis at the hands of the union boss. Penda, according to the petition has also been on a witch-hunt to intimidate and drag those that did not back him at the recent congress in Keetmanshoop, through disciplinary hearings. He reportedly also rotates those in his bad books with the intention to dismiss them.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015