Teachers in the country’s biggest teaching union have thrown preparations of the Grade 12 examinations in serious limbo after it was announced that they will soon vote for a strike or not. With more than 25 000 learners expected to sit for this year’s examinations, the nation await in angst to see whether teachers will vote to strike over salary hikes or not.
Teachers want an 8% salary increment but Government is only willing to give them a 5% pay rise. “We are aware of external forces who are attempting to intimidate and discourage our members. The leadership of NANTU is being accused of blocking the 5%, hence now it is time for all our members to express themselves on their demands of 8%.We therefore urge our members to remain united and to remember that if we allow the government to get away with this insult of 5%, we should forget about salary negotiations again in the future. That will also mean the end of any labor movement in the country,” warned NANTU secretary general Basilius Haingura.
Haingura said the demands are reasonable and are informed by inflation and continuing price increase of commodities as indicated by the Consumer Price Index. Currently at 120.58 index points, the country’s CPI is expected to increase to 121.12 index points in August 2016. Out of the 37 627 staff members of the education ministry, 32 271 are permanent staff and 5 356 are temporary staff. The teaching force totals 27 325 teachers with 22 869 permanent and 4 456 temporary teachers respectively.
An 8% increase is expected to significantly suffocate the ministry’s financial position seeing that the wage bill of the Ministry stood at N$ 8 093 236 000 out of the total annual appropriation or budget of N$ 11 321 689 000 for 2015/16 financial year (71% of the total annual budget). Cabinet last week said the 8% increment demand cannot be met because of factors such as drought and the performance of the economy.
However, Haingura said: “NANTU observed that the very same Cabinet did not consider the performance of the economy and the drought situation when they gave themselves 6% salary increment, they did also[increment] considering other fringe benefits they afforded themselves. We are surprised that it becomes an issue when it comes to the public servants’ demands.”
“Human resources is a higher priority among priorities if we are aiming at achieving Vision 2030 and National Development Plans including Harambee Prosperity Plan,” Haingura said. Cabinet secretary George Simataa did not respond to questions relating the planned strike which may happen depending on the poll outcomes.