The process by teachers to decide through the ballot whether to embark on a nationwide strike or not over salaries has been postponed to Tuesday next week.
Thousands of teachers affiliated to the Namibian National Teachers’ Union (Nantu) have been demanding an eight percent increment in their salaries, but government maintains it is not in a financial position to meet this demand.
Nantu Secretary General Basilius Haingura yesterday told New Era in an interview that the voting process could not take place this week because government failed to appoint election observers on time.
Many, especially parents of school-going children, feared that teachers might be on strike as school re-opened yesterday, which would have had a negative effect on learners who have now officially entered the final term of the academic year.
“The voting process could not take place this week as scheduled,” Haingura told New Era.
“We wanted to do things procedurally to have free and credible elections. We therefore had a meeting with the government negotiating team to have the process next week,” he said.
However, Haingura vowed that if government fails to appoint election observers to be present at the polling stations countrywide latest Monday, Nantu will go ahead with the voting process on Tuesday.
The voting process will include all teachers, heads of department, school principals and inspectors of education.
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 the Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) and Nantu members rejected the offer, describing it is an insult.
Teachers under Nantu have declared a dispute with government after negotiations for a salary increase reached a deadlock.
The union rejected government’s proposed five percent increase while government maintains it has no money to meet the eight percent demand.
Nantu said government is still adamant on its position of a five percent salary adjustment, but argues teachers’ 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.
Government, through Minister of Information and Communication Technology Tjekero Tweya, last week announced that it had failed to reach an agreement with Nantu on salary and benefit adjustments for teachers for the year 2017/18.
Government offered a seven percent adjustment for the 2017/18 financial year for all grades, seven percent adjustment for transport allowance and seven percent adjustment for vehicle allowance for managers.