BY Elinera Manyonga
THE NATIONAL Foods Limited board has committed to solving the plight of its retired workers after dozens of their former employees staged a protest at the company premises on Thursday, accusing the miller of denying them 10% of their shareholding.
The aggrieved former employees claimed that the 10% shareholding in question was donated to them in 1984 through a the National Foods Workers’ Trust.
National Foods group human resources director and company spokesperson Rosseweater Usayi said the firm had received a petition by former workers and was looking at it with a view to solve the issue.
“A total of 66 retired employees of National Foods Ltd have petitioned the Workers Trust Board today and the trust has been furnished with the petition for their consideration and response,” Usayi said. “The trust will look into the matters raised and will respond to the concerns.”
Usayi said the National Foods Workers’ Trust was formed many years ago through a donation of a large block of the company shares by the shareholders at that time. She said the trust was administered by a board consisting of equal numbers of employer and employee representatives and an independent chairperson.
The demonstrating retirees told NewsDay Weekender that the National Foods Workers’ Trust Board led by its chairperson Dave Elman Brown had refused to have dialogue with them through their trade union on the issue which raised speculation that the Trust had been “stolen”.
They said they opted to protest in order to force the board to consider their petition.
The workers also requested the dissolution of the National Foods Worker’s Trust Fund and gave the company two weeks to respond to the petition.
One of the elderly protesters claimed that the company owed them millions of dollars accrued between 1972 and 2010 when most of the retirees left their posts at National Foods.
Among the protesters were widows and children of some of the retirees who died without enjoying their benefits.