The director of the Labour Resource and Research Institute (LaRRI), Michael Akuupa, has strongly suggested that a provision in the Labour Act which stipulates an employer is not obliged to remunerate an employee for services not rendered during a strike or lockout, be revised.
This follows the Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa’s warning to teachers that there are consequences attached to voting in favour of a strike, and that the “no work, no pay policy will apply”.
In an interview with New Era on Tuesday, Akuupa said the provision should be revised because employers may negotiate in bad faith if they know that should the dispute not be resolved only one party suffers the consequence of being on strike or lockout.
Currently, the Labour Act No.11 of 2007, Sector 76 (1) clearly states that by taking part in a strike or lockout a person does not commit a delict or a breach of contract, but an employer is not obliged to remunerate an employee for services that the employee does not render during a strike or lockout.
Namibian teachers voted 95.1 percent in favour of strike action, and the Namibia National Teachers’ Union (Nantu) is expected to engage government today on the rules regulating the planned strike.
Teachers countrywide voted overwhelmingly to strike for an 8 percent salary increment and improvements to their conditions of service.
Akuupa stressed that the government by law is not obliged to pay workers for the period they are on strike. But he added: “It is a difficult or unfair situation when in negotiation one party is not obliged to pay for wages. The space for interaction especially for workers is actually limited.” Before the teachers voted a week ago the minister warned that all employees who opt to strike would lose their income during the period they are striking, which will directly affect fringe benefits as well. In addition, Hanse-Himarwa had noted that employees who opt to remain at work and continue with their normal duties would be remunerated accordingly.
The actions of the trade union that represent teachers are all legal, and Akuupa feels the government was not supposed to threaten teachers if they have followed due process as stipulated by law.
Nantu president Simeon Kavila said its ballot of members had shown that 95.1 percent were in favour of the walkout, with only 4.7 percent against. Kavila said teachers’ position on the 8 percent increment remains unchanged and Nantu would engage the government (yesterday) to iron out the striking rules. Thereafter, a date for the actual nationwide strike by teaches would be announced.