The two parties have been deadlocked for some time now after government’s negotiating team announced that government would not consider the 6% adjustment on teachers’ salaries and a 7% housing benefits increase demanded by the union.
In an update statement released this week, NANTU secretary general Basilius Haingura announced that the Office of the Labour Commissioner has appointed a concilliator to attend to the dispute.
“The memo serves as an update to all of you referred above that the Office of the Labour Commissioner has appointed the Concilliator who will conciliate the dispute between the Namibia National Teachers’ Union and Government of the Republic of Namibia,” said Haingura in the memo dated 27 June 2016 addressed to all members under the bargaining units.
Haingura said the conciliation process is scheduled for 26 July 2016.
The rejection came less than three months after The Namibian reported that President Hage Geingob agreed to give politicians a 6% salary increase this year.
Taxpayers currently foot a N$55-million bill to cater for the monthly salaries of the 104 members of parliament.
The education ministry currently employs over 27 000 teachers.
Government offered a 10% increment for teachers who are in Grade 15 to 13 for the 2016/17 financial year, a 5% for Grade 12 to 5 and 4% for Grade 4 to 1A. In addition, government has also offered a 9% increase in housing allowance for staff members, 8% increase in housing allowance for the management cadre and a 10% increase in the home owners’ scheme for staff members.
“We anticipate the Government may pay the salary increment to other public servants who are not party to dispute anytime from now on,” warned Haingura. However, he stated that such a move should not impinge “our focus to accept the offer from the government”.
“Let us remain focused to allow the process to take its course. We believe united workers will never be defeated and we are arranging for consultative meetings countrywide to update members in this regard,” Haingura further said.
George Simaata, Secretary of Cabinet, last month explained that: “The amount that they [NANTU] are demanding is too much. Government has other obligations and NANTU should understand that teachers that are supposed to get that adjustment are already teachers that are getting a high salary and living a good lifestyle.”
He also said NANTU was informed on several occasions of the multiple and serious financial challenges that are compounded by the results of the prolonged drought in the country, high employment rate, the need for mass land servicing, need for housing in the country and to fight against poverty and hunger in the country.
Simataa said then that government would rather consider priorities such as improving the quality of services, increasing and improving educational opportunities as well as deal with issues including the increase in food prices that had a significant impact on the Ministry of Education’s school feeding programme rather than flashing out money on unnecessary situations
According to Simataa, “For the 2017/18 financial year, government will offer a salary increment of 7% across the board. The government is really trying but we can also just do what we are able to do. There is no point in trying to squeeze juice out of a bottle knowing that there is no more juice.
Last month NANTU and the public servants’ representative, NAPWU, met Vice-President Dr Nicky Iyambo to consult on the salary increment for all employees in the education sector for the financial years of 2016/2017 and 2017/2018.Haingura said at the time that the negotiation committee could not reach consensus, simply because the government negotiating team still maintains its position of five percent.
“Government does simply not have enough money to cover the demand by NANTU due to other pressing needs,” Simataa said at the time.