Windhoek – The Katutura Youth Enterprise Centre (Kayec) has called for dialogue with striking instructors, after saying the group’s ongoing strike is illegal.
A strike by seventeen instructors of Kayec Trust, a non-governmental organisation, has entered its 15th week over alleged salary discrepancies and a lack of teaching materials.
Speaking to New Era on Friday, Kayec human resources manager Johan Visagie said the Namibia National Teachers’ Union (Nantu) has already admitted that it failed to follow requirements of the Labour Act when it first called the Kayec strike on June 23-27.
According to Visagie this was confirmed in the arbitrator award from the Labour Commission dated September 26.
“Nantu did not fill out the correct forms and did not give the labour commissioner rights to set the strike rules,” he maintained, adding that Nantu withdrew their first submission and said that instructors would return to work, yet they started a new strike in July.
He said as employers they believe Nantu has been abusing the laws to take advantage of a small organisation that is working for the upliftment of unemployed Namibians.
New Era understands that the final arbitrator meeting to declare whether the strike is illegal or not is set for November 10.
Visagie also used the opportunity to deny claims that instructors take home N$6 322, little more than the cleaners who earn N$5 528 per month, saying that in February 2015 the company did a salary upgrading.
“The average increase was 32 percent, and the highest was 64 percent,” he said, adding that he believes it is unfair to demand another double-digit increase in 2016.
Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Dr Becky Ndjoze-Ojo, has insisted she is powerless to take any action to resolve the strike.
Responding to questions recently by the opposition in parliament, Ndjoze-Ojo said: “I have to reiterate that the Kayec trustee juristic entity is governed by a Board of Trustees and by virtue of that as a ministry we do not have a mandate to interfere with the issues affecting Kayec.”
She said as the ministry responsible for technical vocation and education training in the country they are indeed very much concerned about the ongoing strike, because it severely affects the skills development of Namibian youths.
Kayec Board of Trustees chairperson Luke Tato recently said he could not comment on the strike since he still had to meet board members to discuss the highly contentious issue.
“I don’t really have an answer to your questions as we as board haven’t met to discuss the issue,” he said.
Instructors at the NGO are demanding a 10 percent salary increment across the board plus fringe benefits. Kayec has offered a 5.1 percent increase.
Spokesperson for the striking instructors, Donald Kuhanga, confirmed to New Era they are waiting for the arbitrator’s ruling on November 10 whether the strike is legal or not.