The government on Friday announced that it had failed to reach an agreement with the Namibia National Teachers’ Union (Nantu) on salary and benefit adjustments for teachers for the year 2017/18. Hence, negotiations were suspended for a month.
This after government suggested a general salary adjustment of seven percent for all grades, a seven percent for transport allowance for staff members and seven percent on the capital amount for motor vehicle allowance for managers.
However, the Namibia Public Workers’ Union (Napwu) had reportedly signed the agreement with the government on behalf of civil servants, which is collectively expected to translate to an amount of over N$2 billion added to the salary budget.
“Due to a lack of agreement with Nantu as referred to … negotiations were suspended and parties were given 30 working days to resolve differences as provided for in the recognition agreement with Nantu,” Information and Communication Technology Minister Tjekero Tweya announced late Friday afternoon.
He spoke on behalf of Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.
“A technical committee consisting of members of the government negotiating team and Nantu was appointed to engage on the matter,” he told reporters.
Tweya indicated that Vice-President Nickey Iyambo had also engaged Nantu on the issue, but this did not yield any favourable results.
It was his account that since then Nantu has issued a number of press statements in the media accusing government of negotiating in bad faith and of not being serious about improving the standard of living of teachers.
According to the minister, who was joined by more than a dozen Cabinet ministers, the continued lack of agreement with Nantu on a 5% general salary adjustment for grades 12 to five poses a serious challenge.
He said that is the maximum that can be afforded by government in the current economic situation.
He stressed it has therefore become imperative for the government to explain its position on the matter within its proper context.
“From April 1, 2011 – up to and including the adjustment of April 1, 2016 – government has spent N$9.6 billion on the improvement of salaries and benefits for staff members.”
Tweya said that represents an increase of 68% in the salary budget since 2011 from N$14 billion to N$29.9 billion and constitutes 35% of the total budget of government.
“The improvements of salaries over the last five years improved the income of staff members significantly.”
“It has become a practice to negotiate for a period of three of years to align with the three-year rolling budget of the Ministry of Finance and also the medium-term expenditure framework.”
According to Tweya, in the 2015 – 2016 financial year salary adjustments for civil servants amounted to N$900 million, while N$1.7 billion is budgeted for the current financial year.
“We therefore call upon the teaching fraternity and the larger Namibian nation to appreciate the challenges that are posed, by the demands for a higher salary increase, on the economy of the country.”
“We also urge them to consider the impact industrial action may have on the situation of our children and the future of the country,” he added.
“Surely, considering the significant investment in civil servants and teachers in particular, our children and country deserve better than an industrial action at a critical point in their studies.”