NBC workers protest, threaten news blackout

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Windhoek

Workers at the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) staged a peaceful demonstration in front of the company premises in the capital during lunch hour on Friday to demand an 8 percent salary increment across the board.

Close to 100 NBC workers held placards, sang protest songs and danced alongside union leaders. Some placards read: “We want money. No money, no news” and “No 8 percent, no work”.

Workers at the national broadcaster through their union, the Namibia Public Workers Union (NAPWU), told New Era they have been patient for over six months without any positive feedback from the management on the progress or conclusion of the 2016/2017 salary negotiations.

“We, through our union, have been engaged in negotiation for improvements of salaries and conditions of service for the year 2016/2017,” said NBC marketing officer Toucy Tjijombo, who read the petition on behalf of the group. She said employees did not have any salary increment during the 2015/2016 financial year and face the possibility of losing out on the same during this financial year.

She said they are of the view that the 8 percent salary increment is reasonable, given there was no salary increment last year, during which time workers sacrificed to give the company breathing space, financially speaking.
The workers demand that NBC management given them feedback by this week Friday.

NBC director general Stanley Similo could not receive the petition on Friday due to other commitments he had to attend to. Receiving the petition on behalf of Similo, NBC general manager for human resources Vezenga Kauraisa said it should be noted that NBC is heavily dependent on government subsidies to maintain its operations.

“It is public knowledge that the NBC subsidy for this financial year has been reduced by about N$100 million and this has put the corporation under tremendous pressure,” he said, adding that the management has since revisited their revenue model to ensure NBC starts operating on sustainable business principles.

On the delays in salary negotiations, Kauraisa said the junior leadership is fully aware that the issue was raised with the board and also the line ministry.

“It is unfortunate that the implementation of the salary increases is taking longer than expected, because of revenue challenges. Please note that management is committed to honouring its commitments, but first there should be money in the bank,” he said.

He said the demonstration on Friday served as a wake-up call for NBC as a whole to break the chains of dependency and engage in alternative ways to supplement government subsidies.

Kauraisa said personally he would have preferred that the demonstration be postponed out of respect for the funeral of late Hidipo Hamutenya, who was the line minister at the time of the founding of the NBC.

“As we all know, the nation is moaning the departure of our founding NBC minister, late Hamutenya. It is, therefore, not easy for me as a manager to stand here and send a sort of goodbye to him by receiving petitions,” he remarked.

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