Govt reassures RCC’s 393 employees
By Hilary Mare
THE welfare of employees was the cornerstone of all deliberations on the best way forward for the troubled Roads Contractor Company (RCC), Minister of Public Enterprises, Leon Jooste has revealed.
The minister was speaking subsequent to the Cabinet Committee on Overall Policy and Priorities (CCOPP) last week deciding to place of the parastatal under judicial management, due to its inability to make a profit and its repeated reliance on government bailouts.
The RCC currently employs 393 employees.
Responding to concerns surrounding the future of these employees, Jooste told Confidente that nothing will happen to them in the interim, and that treasury will foot the approximately N$7 million per month wage bill, until all processes have been finalised.
“The effect on the workers was our main focus in all the decisions and discussions we did around the future of RCC. I have spoken to the finance minister, and he has already agreed to pay the salaries of all employees, though these will only be basic salaries, with no bonuses or other incentives. So yes, our concern is with the employees, and we as a government always try to look at the socio-economic impacts of the decisions we make,” Jooste said.
Judicial management is applied to allow a company in dire financial straits, but which is still a viable business, the opportunity for rehabilitation and the restoration to profitability. The judicial manager for RCC will be empowered to make far-reaching decisions on the company’s business transactions, including its operations, and its human resources and financial management.
“Given the seriousness of the current financial situation at the RCC, and the limited availability of State resources to assist any of the ailing commercial public enterprises, the Cabinet Committee on Overall Policy and Priorities (which is chaired by President Geingob) decided to seek the placement of the RCC under judicial management,” Jooste explained.
He assured that “creditors need not panic either “, as “the judicial management would restructure the debt”.
While the company is under judicial management, creditors will have to wait before seeing their claims against the company settled.
“The judicial manager will proactively seek ways to restructure the debt of the company, and respond to the financial demands on the company,” Jooste said.
Affirming the status of the employees, Works and Transport Minister, Alpheus !Naruseb, highlighted this week that the stance by government is to try and save the RCC, and hence protect the employees.
“The discussions around the RCC have taken a long time to reach this stage. Now that the CCOPP has decided on the rescue and continuation of the RCC, workers should now be assured of their future. The workers should now focus on being productive, so that they can continue to look after their families, as well as all those who depend on their income from the RCC,” he said.
In May, it was reported that the RCC workers had gone for 10 days without having received their April salaries.
Public Service Union of Namibia (PSUN) senior national organiser, Ujama Kaahangoro, confirmed the impasse.
“The company has found itself in a dire financial state, and is getting a bailout from government for the salaries, while still looking at how they can rescue the future,” he said.
In August, the parastatal’s financial situation progressively worsened, while its future remained in limbo, as politicians were deciding whether to shut it down. It was further reported that RCC Acting Chief Executive Officer, Seth Herunga, and Works and Transport Permanent Secretary, Willem Goeieman, had been sought financial help from the National Planning Commission (NPC) to pay the company’s July salaries, but their efforts were in vain.