The Namibian National Teachers’ Union (Nantu) yesterday said its members are prepared to compromise on their wage demand, provided government is willing to meet them halfway.
In an interview with New Era this week, secretary to Cabinet George Simataa hinted that government and the teachers could reach an agreement to benefit both parties.
This came after thousands of teachers countrywide voted in favour of strike action in a bid to compel government to agree to their demand for an eight percent wage increase, three percent more than what is on offer, which will cost an additional N$600 million a year.
Yesterday, the country’s largest trade union federation, the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) expressed the willingness of Nantu to break the deadlock.
Seated shoulder-to-shoulder, Nantu president Simeon Kavila and NUNW secretary general Job Muniaro yesterday implored government to reach a compromise with the teachers.
The leader of the Swapo-affiliated union federation said he understands government’s financial position, “but let us not allow a situation that will be more costly to happen, as this damage might be more than the three percent that is demanded by teachers from the five percent that government offered.”
He said he strongly believes the interests of government and the teachers are entirely complementary and the only way forward is for both parties to cooperate in order to reach a solution and avoid losses.
“Therefore we should be able to mitigate the risk of the strike,” he said, adding that the unity of teachers is evidence of the fact that there is good leadership practice within the union, thus government has an advantage in negotiations, because a stable and responsible union represents the teachers.
“We should also know that teachers have become the second parents of students at any given time,” he said, noting that schools play a role in the upbringing of children and provide a safe environment free from violence and abuse that they would encounter if they were not in school.
The NUNW called for the intervention of both the Swapo Party as custodian of government and President Hage Geingob to resolve the matter.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Simataa confirmed that there have been ongoing talks between government and Nantu to try to reach a workable agreement.