The Namibian Qualifications Authority (NQA) has been accused of playing hide and seek with its workers after it failed to provide a substantive response to the workers’ demands submitted during a peaceful demonstration last month.
The demonstration that took place on 8 August 2018 was prompted by a scathing report by Price Waterhouse Coopers that had uncovered rampant underpayment of workers at Namibia Qualifications Authority(NQA) – in some cases half below the market rates – as well as wide salary differences between workers in the same job grades.
This among other reasons such as two payroll systems, use of company vehicles by managers, executives driving company cars, discretionary sick leave days and a call for salary and housing increments prompted NQA workers to picket.
On 29 August 2018, NQA CEO Frans Gertze wrote to Napwu saying the company could not provide a response because “feedback awaited as agreed between management and Workplace Union Representative by 12h00 on 28 August 2018 has not been received”.
Gertze wants clarification on the points raised in the petition. He did not specify which points needed clarity.
“It is pertinent to note that the majority of points raised within the petition are grievances, which is also confirmed on page 4 of the petition. The NQA, as a responsible employer, has a grievance Policy in place to provide a platform for staff to air their issues, facilitate effective resolution thereof and in so doing promote harmonious relations,” said Gertze.
The CEO further indicated that the grievances raised will be addressed as addressed in the company’s Grievance Policy. “The Grievance Policy serves no purpose because those who lay grievances always end up being victimised by management,” said a worker who spoke under anonymity.
Gertze also said the salary negotiations are still ongoing and reiterated that NQA will pursue an amicable solution.
Workers have since accused Gertze of trying to deliberately delay the process by not addressing their concerns.
The workers’ demands
On the earnings and benefits gap analysis, the report found that there are wide salary differences of up to 32% between employees in the same job grades.
In the C1 grade for instance, the office administrator is paid 53% below the market rate while grades B2 (receptionist and switchboard) and B3 (registry officer) are paid 28% and 32% respectively below the market rate.
PwC warned that NQA risks experiencing “a destruction of the delicate fabric in employee relations in times when the NQA needs to transform”.
The report therefore called on the company to “stabilize the environment for the duration of the 1 year bargaining unit agreement whilst new Housing Allowance Policy and Total Cost to Company is consulted and approved”.
The report also notes that employees are unhappy with the housing policy, adding that NQA is losing skilled employees because the company cannot offer what other employers offer.
PwC recommended that packages must be restructured and customised.
The workers also revealed that the company current operates under two parallel payroll systems, despite the fact that the company employs less than 70 staffers.
The Patriot understands there is a payroll for the executives and one for the ordinary employees.
According to the PwC report, NQA’s salary and wage bill in 2016 stood at N$23.5 million.
Company insiders who spoke to this newspaper said that figure escalated to over N$35 million in 2018.
The staffers castigated the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation for only allocating N$10 million to NQA for the current financial year.
“This is 28% of the wage bill, how does the minister expect NQA to survive with this abnormal budget cut? Are the strategic plans for the NQA and its existence still relevant to the minister?” they queried.
The workers called for a salary increment and improvement on housing from the current 21%.
“The housing and rentals in our country is very expensive thus we demand our housing ration to be adjusted so we can afford to have decent accommodation,” they said in the petition,” demanded the workers.
They further took issue with the fact that managers drive company cars while they receive car allowances.
The cars are allegedly used by managers to attend meetings across the country.
The PwC report also found that the company’s deputy CEO is too involved at an operational level and that the company lacks a professional ICT team.
The lack of an ICT team, the report states, results in no business process improvement through automation or national growth of NQA services.
It also identified that there exists duplication between qualifications and accreditation around many of the business processes when it comes to serving the public.