President Hage Geingob, who intervened last week to address the teachers’ demand for an 8 percent salary increment says the ‘no work, no pay policy’ will not apply to educators who participated in the two-day nationwide teachers’ strike on Thursday and Friday, which halted all school activities.
This follows Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa’s earlier remarks, in which she had warned teachers that there are consequences attached to going on strike, as the employer would not be liable to pay for work not done.
President Geingob made the remarks on Saturday following the collective signing of the salaries and benefits agreement between government, the Namibia National Teachers’ Union (Nantu) and the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) at State House.
Geingob said since the education minister decided to cancel classes on Thursday and Friday, teachers who were on strike will not lose money for the days they were absent from work.
“They say where diplomacy fails, the war starts. So we engage, talk, and debate in democracy.
“We cannot deny any Namibian what is due to them,” Geingob said. “Namibia is a democracy. In a democracy people vote for their leaders and democracy is linked to law.”
Labour Resource and Research Institute (LaRRI) director Michael Akuupa recently suggested a provision in the Labour Act that stipulates an employer is not obliged to remunerate an employee for services that the employee does not render during a strike or lockout needs to be revised.
Akuupa said that provision needs to be revised, as employers may negotiate in bad faith if they know that should the dispute not be resolved only one party will suffer the consequence of a strike or lockout.
The Labour Act of 2007 stipulates that by taking part in a strike or a lockout in compliance, 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.
Before the teachers’ strike, the minister had warned that all employees who resort to strike action could lose their income during the period they are on strike and this would directly affect other associated fringe benefits.
The ministry closed all public schools on Thursday and Friday. National examinations scheduled for those two days were also postponed.
Nantu secretary general Basilius Haingura on Saturday accused Minister Hanse-Himarwa of intimidating and threatening teachers during the negotiations.
“The honourable minister’s actions portrayed during this time does not deserve her to head this ministry any longer. The sound working relationship, which educators enjoyed for the past 26 years has been damaged. Nantu believes there will be no prospect of working together for the improvement of the education system in this country if the same minister will still head this ministry,” Haingura remarked.
He said the minister should know that Nantu is registered and recognised by government. He said the National Teachers’ Council knows the procedures to implement a recognition agreement.
“Therefore, we do not need her lecture in this regard. We are advising the honourable minister to read section 64, 65 and 67 of the Namibian Labour Act of 2007, which is in line with the recognition agreement and collective agreement,” he remarked, before urging all union members to report for work tomorrow, as no one will lose money for the two days they were absent from work.
Contacted for comment, Minister Hanse-Himarwa said: “What do you want me to say? What is it that I must respond to from Haingura? No, let Haingura continue with his talking.”
The minister noted that teaching and learning, as well as national examinations for Grade 10 and 12 would resume today.
She also announced that the subjects that were postponed on October 13 and 14 have been rescheduled, as follows:
Grade 12 national examinations: Mathematics Higher Level, Paper 1 and 2 on October 31. Mathematics Ordinary Level, Paper 1, 2, 3 and 4 will be written on October 31. Entrepreneurship Ordinary Level will be written on November 1.
Grade 10 National Examinations: Integrated Performing Arts Paper 1 will be written on October 31. Needlework and Clothing will be written on October 31. Life Sciences will be written on November 1.
Hanse-Himarwa said government would issue more detailed information to regional directors of education on the exact times the exams will be written.