Insulted over unpaid wages, guards say

 

Windhoek

Youth Services Security (YSS) guards under the National Youth Service have allegedly been subjected to verbal insults by the general manager whenever they asked about their unpaid salaries.

The workers say their unpaid wages date back three months. The guards claim they are usually paid a month after their pay is due and some guards are to yet to be paid for August and September.

A general manager at National Youth Service, identified as George Likukela, responded rudely after a security guard sent him two Whatsapp audio clips on Tuesday night asking about their unpaid salaries.

In an audio clip sent by guard Matthew Shapopi to Likukela, he said they were not doing well in all 14 regions, because of unpaid salaries – amounting to about N$2 500 each – that is owed to them.

“Imagine if it was you, you have your kids, your wife, or maybe you are renting or not. You have to buy food. We all have basic needs. What will you do if you are not paid? Will you go to work if it was you?

“Will you go work on a hungry stomach like us? Will you sleep? Do your kids go to school without any bread?“ Shapopi asked, while adding that company officials did not informed them in advance about the delayed salary payments.

In reply Likukela said: “Stop disturbing me. You will get your f***ing salaries, you morons.” Calls to him for comment went unanswered yesterday.

Shapopi on Tuesday night requested the floor after a youth meeting at Katutura Youth Complex where the YSS guards were on nightshift duty. He said in May his son passed away and he did not even have any money for the burial, because of unpaid salaries.

He said despite reporting his problem to the company he was only paid five days after he had already buried his son. Fortunately his family stepped in to assist him financially with the funeral costs.

“We need help in Namibia. We bring in money and we are paid very little and our bosses don’t respect us,” he said.
Due to non-payment, another guard, Fransina Titus, comes to work with a 25-litre container to fetch water to take home.

“I don’t have money to buy units for my prepaid water card. I was anticipating we will be paid on the ninth [of October], so I can buy units, but we were not [paid],” said Titus, a resident of Goreangab informal settlement.

In the settlement residents collect water from a communal tap, but need to have a water card with prepaid credit on.
“I went to borrow N$30 today for relish and my children’s bread for school. When I get paid I will have to pay to back,” another colleague chipped in.

They also complained about N$200 being deducted from their salaries if they refuse to be transported in an overloaded truck meant for six people, but carrying over 30. The security guards say their supervisors also insult them by saying: “You didn’t bath today and you smell bad.”

NYS Commissioner Onesmus Upindi said anybody who gets a subsidy from the finance ministry seems to be affected by the ongoing changes at the ministry.

He said they do not get the level of subsidy they are supposed to, but said it could be related to the financial problems facing the country.

He yesterday afternoon confirmed that they had paid the guards, adding that they only owe the guards their September salaries.

“Our main client is our [youth] ministry and the Ministry of Land Reform and they have not been forthcoming with their monthly payments for services rendered. They are possibly affected by the same [problem]… short cash flow. But we are in touch with our main clients.”

He further said Likukela’s comments are unacceptable and cannot be condoned: “We need to respond appropriately when security guards ask for their pay, because they worked for it. We will look into internal procedures and the colleague (Likukela) will be held accountable.”

Read full story on New Era Newspaper Namibia