By Anna Shilongo
Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) Board Chairman Ponhele ya Frans has accused protesting wor-kers at the broadcaster of being unreasonable and unrealistic.
Two days ago, protesting workers demanded that ya Frans, the NBC Board of Directors and the top management resign, accusing them of being insensitive to their demands for a pay hike.
Reacting to the strike, ya Frans said the NBC strike was illegal because it was “a dispute of right”.
“What caused the strike is the 6% salary increment which was promised to the staff and the 9% backdated to 2003. Of course, the proposal was given to us. We did not outline or reject their rights to their wage increment, ” he explained.
He said the company could do nothing because there was no money. “We were still working on their wage agreement, which is why a business plan was submitted to the State.”
As a result, the chairman said, the board secured an understanding with Government to grant the corporation an overdraft to cover the workers’
“What I fail to understand is that we tried by all means to address their demands, but yet they are still demanding the 9% back pay which was not part of the agreement. We understand their situation, this was not necessary and is unreasonable,” he said.
The 9% back pay is only for employees in the category of grades 8 to 19.
Although the workers are bound to receive their salary increase, they still demand their 9% back pay by tomorrow (Friday).
He said all NBC staff should understand that they are all responsible for the current situation at the corporation, starting with cleaners to the board of directors.
“The cleaners are responsible for stealing toilet paper, the operators are responsible for stealing CDs, and the management is guilty of signing cheques, while the board of directors are guilty of failing to control the management and for making wrong decisions,” confessed the former ruling Swapo Party parliamentarian.
Despite the staff accusing the corporation’s management of incompetence, ya Frans is impressed with the significant strides attained thus far.
“It is so irresponsible for staff to demand that the management and the board should resign, turning a blind eye to the achievements reached. The NBC belongs to all of us and all should take ownership of what’s happening, don’t only blame the management,” he said.
Urging the protesting workers to return to work he said: “We are doing everything we can to meet you halfway.”
Asked what impact the strike was having on the broadcaster on which the majority of Namibians rely for local and international news and entertainment, ya Frans said the strike was having a negative impact on the corporation’s services.
“We are obviously losing out big time. We are a national broadcaster, and yet our services are down, there are no signals, this is a bad sign,” he said.
He stressed that workers should bear in mind that if they do not return to work soon, they will not be paid for the days they have not been working.
“No work, no pay. If they withhold their labour power, we will also withhold.
They should not expect anything from us, especially on the days that they were on strike,” he explained.