Hundreds of teachers affiliated to the Namibian National Teachers’ Union (Nantu) will next week vote on a motion to go on strike or not. This will include all teachers, heads of department, school principals and inspectors of education.
This follows lack of consensus between government and Nantu yesterday regarding marathon salary negotiations. The conciliator then issued a certificate of unresolved dispute. Yesterday, the Nantu leadership briefed a fully-packed boardroom of hundreds of teachers who converged from all corners of the country to hear the outcome of the negotiations.
“Down Simaata down, down Simaata down,” sang the crowd, as they directed their ire at Secretary to Cabinet George Simataa.
Addressing members, Nantu Secretary General Basilius Haingura said government is still adamant on its position of a five percent salary adjustment. “We are not going to adjust our demands of eight percent salary adjustment,” he stressed, adding that their demands are reasonable and informed by inflation and continuing price increases of commodities as shown by the Namibia Consumer Price Index.
Haingura refused to heed government’s position that drought and the performance of the country’s economy are among the reasons why the requested eight percent increment cannot be met for now.
“We have observed with grave concern that the very same Cabinet did not consider the performance of the economy and the drought situation when they gave themselves six percent salary increment – they did not also consider other fringe benefits they afforded themselves,” he said.
He said the union is surprised that it becomes an issue when it comes to public servants’ demands.
“Human resources are the higher priority among priorities if we are aiming to achieve Vision 2030 and the National Development Plans (NDP), including Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP),” he added.
Haingura says he expects Cabinet to understand better and put into context the economic performance and drought that they want workers to understand.
“We feel that government is taking a reckless stance [and] is undermining workers’ demands,” he said.
“It is in fact the ordinary civil servants, especially those under our bargaining unit, who feel the pinch of the spiralling food prices in the country,” he said.
He said information provided by the Namibia Statistics Agency indicates that currently the inflation rate stands at seven percent.
The government through the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Tjekero Tweya, on Friday announced that it had failed to reach an agreement with Nantu on salary and benefit adjustments for teachers for the year 2017/18.
Teachers initially demanded a 12 percent increase across the board, but for the 2016/2017 financial year government offered a 10 percent salary increment for grades 15 to 13, five percent for grades 12 to five and four percent for grades four to one A.
However, both TUN and Nantu members rejected the offer, saying it is an insult. Still, last month, the prime minister’s office announced that the proposed five percent increase had been accepted by the other recognised bargaining union, the Namibia Public Workers’ Union (Napwu), whose members have received their increases.
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.
Government for the 2017/18 financial year offered seven percent adjustment for all grades, seven percent adjustment for transport allowance and seven percent adjustment for vehicle allowance for managers.