By John Ekongo
College of education lecturers have vowed to continue with their strike set for today amid uncertain circumstances. The four colleges issued an ultimatum to Government last Friday.
The Friday deadline to the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) informing them about the pending strike came and went without any response from the GNT, operating within the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).
The lecturers stressed that the Namibian National Teachers Union (Nantu) failed to enlighten them on whether the teachers should proceed with the strike or not.
“Come hell or high water we will continue with the strike, all the academic staff have voted for an industrial action,” said Liswani Simasiku, spokesperson for the group.
When approached for comment, Secretary General of Nantu, Bassilius Haingura, could not divulge more information other than a rudimentary “no comment at this stage”.
“The issue of the college(s) we cannot comment now, we are still awaiting the Office of the Prime Minister’s response. We can only comment properly if OPM pronounce themselves as to whether they will adhere to our requests or not,” said Haingura.
“This is the problem we have with Nantu, maybe someone is doing someone a favour up there, by not wanting the strike” raised one lecturer.
The lecturers are questioning the silence of the union – insinuating that perhaps pressure might have been exerted on the union not to forge ahead with the strike, despite the lapse of the Friday deadline.
However, all the lecturers are adamant that they will push ahead with the strike, with or without the blessings and the presence of the union. During a meeting the trainers voted unanimously for an industrial action.
Head of GNT, the Permanent Secretary in the OPM, Nangula Mbako, confirmed to New Era that the GNT and Nantu have been working together in the form of consultations on what to bring on the table and this is a process.
She pointed out that the demands for lecturers’ salary increments are known to the GNT and it is exactly these issues that are being addressed by the body, which falls under the OPM.
She, however, is not aware of the ultimatum issued by the lecturers on Friday. “I am not aware of that letter.”
She said GNT works on a revolving budget for all Public Service employees and the current agreement has come to an end, and a new one is currently being worked out in which the attention and demands of the lecturers will be addressed.
By yesterday afternoon, New Era was able to establish that the colleges of Rundu, Ongwediva, Windhoek and Katima Mulilo have opted for a strike as the only solution to their plight, which the trainers said has been going on since 2003.
“Our colleagues from Ongwediva and Rundu have met and together we have decided that a strike is inevitable,” said Simasiku.