Monday 17 May 2021
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Ohorongo under siege over retrenchments

On the sidelines of two Ohorongo Cement employees’ fight to salvage their jobs, the company’s leadership has been castigated for its layoff plan.
The company has been accused of using “organisational restructuring” as an excuse to get rid of workers who are deemed troublesome, but it maintains that its decision to initiate the process was due to the poor economic climate and to ensure that the organisation is resilient and flexible to respond to market changes.
Ohorongo also stands accused of coercing employees into unfavourable negotiation processes during which the outcome was already pre-determined. The two employees who will soon be rendered jobless after the company made their positions redundant are Mangulula Shilongo (Human Resource Manager) and Ishimael Mubiana(Electrical Superintendent).
Company sources say Shilongo was kept in the dark about the restructuring and retrenchment plan, despite the fact that she is in charge of the human resource department. “It is strange that the company only informed the Labour Commissioner about the two retrenchments after having started the process months back. This is a mere victimisation drive which has nothing to do with the economy. How will the retrenchment of two employees save the company money? Also, it is unheard of for any company’s head of human resources not to know that the company will execute a restructuring drive because such initiatives are normally driven by the HR office. That in itself is a sign that there seems to have been bad blood between the company and the employee,” said a company source who is privy to the process.
The company managing director Hans-Wilhelm Schütte however maintains that the restructuring process is done in the best interest of the company, saying “it is regrettable that jobs have to be lost in the process”.
He also says the process is not complete and that the two affected employees can still negotiate their exit packages.
On 14 August 2018, Ohorongo’s General Administration Manager Rudolf Coetzee wrote to the Office of the Labour Commissioner informing him that “Ohorongo Cement has no other option other than to commence retrenchment proceedings”.
However, insiders claim that the retrenchment proceedings have already been effected at the beginning of 2018 when Shilongo was told to clear her desk.
Shilongo, employed at Ohorongo Cement since inception was offered a notice pay of three months, severance pay of one week for every year of service completed, payment of all her leave days, pro-rata bonus and the company offered to write off any money owed to the company resulting from a loan or alternative assistance. She rejected the retrenchment offer from the company. The 33-year-old told the company the offer is not sufficient because it does not meet her financial commitments which includes a monthly payment of N$8630 for her home loan for the next 18 years, vehicle loan (N$6500), insurance/life cover policy (N$3000), body corporate fees (N$1362) and a rental agreement of N$2000.
She also indicated that she cannot accept the offer because chances of her finding a job in the current economic climate are limited.
“I suggest that the company settle the above financial commitments and consider an additional pay out equivalent to two years as a loss of income, band not three months as stated,” said Shilongo in one of the emails she authored to the company.
Now, The Patriot has seen letters and email communications that confirms the veracity of claims that the company has unilaterally crafted the exit packages. The credibility of the documents have also been confirmed by company insiders.
Shilongo, speaking through her lawyer, has declined to comment.
Despite the deadlock in negotiations, the company informed all its employees that the position of Human Resources Manager has become redundant effective 13 August 2018.
Questioned whether all procedures were followed in the build-up to the positions being deemed redundant, Schütte said: “We have started this process and if we see a certain procedure was not followed we are willing to restart the process and rectify it.”
Schütte explained that it is not the first time positions have been classified “redundant” in the company. “In the past the position of procurement manager was made redundant. Now that the pie of the market has to be shared and considering the economy, we deem it necessary to take all steps so that we are structurally correct internally. Our target is the positions, not people. We have even advertised new positions which shows that we care about our employees,” he said.
“As a company we need to change how we operate because the environment in which we operate has changed, but I can assure you that this is not an overnight process and that all our stakeholders will be informed,” Schütte said.
He could not answer whether more positions will be made redundant.

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