ALTHOUGH more than 1 100 staff members of the Gondwana Collection this week agreed to a three-month extended 25% pay cut, Gondwana continues to buckle under financial strain.
With the national interest of tourism in focus, the management was first to announce a voluntary 50% cut in their salaries and shareholders postponed the payment of any dividends until and when economics improve.
The Board of Gondwana also immediately waved all fees, while the staff – as a Gondwana collective – agreed to a 25% reduction in salaries to keep jobs and to be ready for the revival of Namibia’s tourism amidst post-Covid-19 restrictions and the reopening of international borders.
The extension of the pay cut to 30 June comes in the wake of a business interruption dispute with the insurer, Hollard Namibia, who has yet to acknowledge a claim of business interruption by the national tourism flagship.
Hollard elsewhere in the world and in South Africa have already recognized business interruption claims in line with various other insurers, while Hollard Namibia dug in its heels. Other Namibian insurers also made some payments due to business interruption.
The latest salary cut by Gondwana staff will by agreement be extended to 30 June in solidarity with efforts by various private sector role-players answering a presidential call to safeguard jobs for all or until business returns to a point when full salaries can be afforded again.
Hollard Namibia in the meantime got embroiled with activists on social media in what is described by influencers and the mayor of Windhoek, Job Amupanda, as lavish lifestyles of elites. Activists already threatened policy cancellations and a national protest with labour unions.
The Mayor of Windhoek, Job Amupanda, and his AR-activists questioned Hollard Namibia and its CEO, Jaco Lampbrecht’s commitment to Namibia. While some Hollard employees and clients rebel against the Namibian management on social media platforms in a public spat.
In an ugly earlier exchange the Hollard CEO, Jaco Lampbrecht, removed his comments on Amupanda’s AR page.
This week staff of the Delight Hotel Boutique Hotel in Swakopmund requested the Gondwana management to consider implementing a loan scheme from Namic or Old Mutual through which workers can borrow money.
A handwritten note describes their woes due to salary cuts as “exceptionally unforeseen” pleading for assistance with loans between N$5 000 and N$7 000 to pay debts that they entered into with cash loans that are charging exorbitant interest rates.
Spokespersons for both Hollard Namibia and Gondwana said due to legal proceedings they do not want to comment on these issues as it is before the courts.