Tempers Flare at Unam Library

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By Staff Reporter WINDHOEK Librarians at the University of Namibia (Unam) are threatening to down tools for what they termed unfair labour practices by the institution. The bone of contention centres around extending the contract of the acting librarian, Ohene Awuku, who is allegedly responsible for the unconducive working environment. The librarians also complain of a general lack of finances to augment their salaries which, according to them, only affects their department and not the whole university management. In expressing the discontent over the entire labour situation at the institution, they took up the matter with the two unions, namely the Namibian National Teachers Union (NANTU) and the Namibian Public Workers Union (NAPWU) dealing with the issue. The librarians have threatened to strike if negotiations between UNAM’s management and the unions end in a deadlock. According to one insider, the problem over wage increases started way back in 1995. He said the working conditions were changed by their night allowances being reduced and their working programmes being extended. “When we draft a letter requesting an increment, management’s answer is invariably that they do not have the money. And, queried the source who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being victimized, why are only the librarians affected and not the whole institution. The employee also expressed dismay at the prolongation of Awuku’s term as acting librarian despite the complaints about his undesirable behaviour towards other staff members, users, students and security officers. According to one source, Awuku gave Hendrik Rooinasie, an assistant librarian, a final warning for what he termed ‘refusing to obey a lawful instruction and for his rude and disrespectful behaviour.’ But, according to the same source, Awuku felt threatened by Rooinasie who had caught him in an uncompromising position with a woman in his office while they were working night shift. The source also revealed that this matter was taken up with management but that when they went to the hearing, the Director of Human Resources, who failed to solve the problem, told them instead: “You lazy people, go back to your work places.” The librarians also feel it was unfair to appoint Awuku as an acting university librarian, taken from nowhere, despite the fact that the institution has two qualified librarians who feel they fit the post. The source also said that Awuku is currently boasting about the whole issue saying that even though the librarians do not like him, he has the support of the Vice-Chancellor, and his contract was thus extended until next year. Awuku could not be reached for a comment.