An industrial strike planned for today at Namibia Wildlife Resort (NWR) that was due to negatively affect the tourism industry countrywide was called off at the last minute yesterday after the union and management reached agreement on a dispute over salary increment and other benefits.
The last minute cancellation came after protracted negotiations between the NWR and the Namibia Public Workers Union (NAPWU), whereby it was agreed that it would be in the best interest of both parties to continue consulting one another in order to find an amicable solution.
NWR manager for corporate communications Mufaro Nesongano confirmed the latest developments surrounding the planned industrial action, saying the strike has been called off.
In a last minute communique issued yesterday by NAPWU secretary general Peter Nevonga, the NWR workers were urged to remain calm and avoid strike action while negotiations are ongoing.
“As a result of this NAPWU, together with its negotiating team, would like to engage NWR management with the aim to find an amicable solution. Given the above, my office would like to inform you all comrades that the strike, which was planned for 3rd June (today) has been deferred to allow further consultation between the parties.
‘The union will revert to you on the outcome in a short period of time and for further correctives,” Nevonga said. He directed all NWR workers to remain at their duty stations and report for work today as a normal working day.
Even though the company did not want offer any increment, the communique states that NWR has moved from their previous position of zero percent increase, without specifying the exact percentage it is willing to agree to.
The workers are demanding a salary increment and other benefits, including bush and housing allowances. Although the parastatal is reportedly willing to offer a five percent increase, the union wants 12 and 15 percent respectively for different categories.
The workers also complained of low housing allowances and want it increased.
Earlier, NWR managing director Zelna Hengari said management is doing everything in its power to minimise and mitigate the effects of the intended strike action.
Initially she also vowed that NWR would not approach government to fund salary hikes, as the union is suggesting. “It is not fair to expect that a cleaner working at a hospital and paying tax, or that a domestic worker who pays VAT (value added tax) on many necessities should subsidise those that are privileged to have good jobs,” she said.
“Neither are we going to further approach an anachronism, such as an four additional days off. We have a new board focused on transforming this company and it cannot be business as usual anymore. We should work together as a team to build a profitable and sustainable NWR,” she said.