The Namibia National Teachers Union (Nantu) says if Government really cares about the livelihood of teachers, it will go out of its way to meet their 8 percent salary increment demand, adding that the recent N$11.3 million released from the Social Security Commission for the children of the liberation struggle shows that there is money. If Government were to meet the 8 percent demand of the teachers, the total additional cost would be N$229 million for teachers and N$652 million for all staff members including teachers. “It is not up to us to dictate where they should get the money, but if they value the importance of teachers they will try and find money as long as they meet our demands,” said Nantu secretary general Basilius Haingura during an interview this week. Nantu this week met government to determine the rules of the looming teachers’ strike. For now, a date on which the impending strike will take place has not been set, Haingura said, adding that once the rules of the strike have been set then the date will be made public. “When a teacher complains of hunger, the employer [Government] does [not] listen, but if others cry then it [Government] runs, that is why we are saying it cannot use drought as an excuse not to meet our demands because it got their money without considering unemployment and drought, why not us?” Haingura questioned.
Haingura’s remarks come at a time when Government is at pains to explain how it came to the conclusion to release funds from the SSC Development Fund to send the children of the liberation struggle for training yet at the same time claim that there is no money to meet the teachers’ demands. Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila recently said that as from 1 April 2011 up to and including the adjustment of 1 April 2016, Government has spent N$9.6 billion on the improvement of salaries and benefits for staff members resulting in an increase of the salary budget from N$14 billion to N$24.9 billion. This means that in the 2016/17 budget, 35 percent of the national budget goes towards salaries and benefits of staff members.
The envisioned strike by public school teachers could start within 48 hours of finalising the rules and regulations for the industrial action, Nantu President Simeon Kavila has said. Senior Government and Nantu leaders were on Thursday drafting rules and regulations for the strike at the Office of the Labour Commissioner. Speaking during a joint media briefing facilitated by Nantu and the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) here on Thursday, Kavila said they started drafting the rules on Monday. “As soon as we are done we will inform our members, and start [with a strike] within 48 days as stipulated by the law. “So, if we finish we will just count the hours before we start. But we can still engage with Government before we start because that is what the law also states,” he added. Over 95 percent of teachers voted last week to strike against a Government offer of five percent. They want eight percent. NUNW Secretary-General Job Muniaro pleaded with President Hage Geingob to intervene and propose a meeting between all stakeholders to avoid industrial action, which could have severe consequences for the domestic economy.
“I call upon on the Swapo Party, as custodians of Government, to urgently intervene in this matter. We must come around the table and negotiate because we have made each other angry,” he said. Muniaro warned that the frustrations on the part of teachers have the potential to stir conflict and threaten the security of the country.
Meanwhile, a Grade Four teacher at the People’s Primary School (PPS) here Helvies Emvula fumed at proposed re-negotiations.
“I have been a teacher for more than 25 years and I only own a small house. I am a hungry teacher and I am also angry. We do not want any further negotiations,” said a clearly distraught Emvula.
– Additional reporting by Nampa