NAMIBIAN Wildlife Resorts (NWR) staff members, who took voluntary separation packages from the parastatal due to Covid-19 restructuring, are up in arms over their unpaid Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) benefits.
A letter written by Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) general secretary Petrus Nevonga, dated 11 February and addressed to NWR managing director Mathias Ngwagwama, complained that most of the 28 workers who chose to go on early retirement are struggling to access their full pension payouts.
Nevonga in the letter said most workers have agreed that their voluntary separation would be treated as early retirement. He said the GIPF is, however, now treating them as employees who have resigned, which means they would receive smaller payouts.
Nevonga requested that NWR’s management find an urgent solution. Ngwagwama in his response gave Napwu the assurance that they are executing the voluntary separation exercise transparently. He said NWR and the GIPF were separate entities, adding the affected workers should seek recourse with the pension fund.
According to GIPF stipulations, retrenchment benefits will be calculated in the same manner as normal retirement benefits if a trustee approves that a member is to receive such benefits.
However, the retrenched workers say they have been denied their retrenchment benefits by the GIPF.
NWR issued a voluntary separation document indicating that workers who chose to voluntarily separate from the entity were promised their total fund credit, which would only apply to GIPF members.
It also included severance payment of two weeks’ remuneration for every completed year of service, a leave accrual payout of 60 days’ accumulated annual leave, and a 50% payout of all leave of more than 60 days accrued.
Ngwangwama said some workers opted to receive their full payment in one go, and others opted to be paid monthly. He said not all employees who were retrenched are experiencing the same problem – only those who chose monthly payments. According to Ngwangwama, the GIPF initially stated that voluntary separation would betreated as resignation.
“… but they later said they have consulted their legal people and it will be treated as voluntary service,” said Ngwangwama.
The GIPF’s chief executive officer, David Nuyoma, said the matter is ongoing and is handled “meticulously”.
He said the company would not change its rules and processes.
“We are engaging with all stakeholders on the best options,” Nuyoma said.
“As far as the GIPF is concerned, the matter is still under discussion between the relevant stakeholders. Therefore the benefits to affected employees of NWR are not finalised yet.”