…. Napwu blasts water entity over discreet actions
By Mathias Haufiku
The public workers union has castigated Namwater over its reluctance to share crucial company information that will shed light on the water entity’s ongoing structural review and job evaluation processes.
A closer look suggests that one of the country’s least controversial state owned enterprises may not be as harmonsised as generally thought.
Namwater stands accused of trying to bulldoze the implementation of a new organisational structure that could cost the company millions.
Namwater developed the first phase of its high level structure in 2014 with the assistance from an external consultant. The second phase entailed reviewing of the structure below the level of chiefs and heads.
The picture becomes more troubling when looking at the medium term. This is especially worrying in light of the fact that Namibia is one of the most arid countries in the world and due to the demand by rural citizens for potable water. Namwater’s finance costs are set to increase significantly over the next few years which will result in increased water tariffs.
Industry insiders have questioned why Namwater wants to change the structure and add more overhead costs on the company while some have accused outgoing CEO Dr. Vaino Shivute of turning a blind eye to the financial repercussions of such a move. Napwu further accused Namwater of withholding crucial information that are crucial to the negotiations.
Union leaders met in recent weeks to ventilate a series of issues regarding Namwater’s planned move that may potentially put close to 900 jobs at risk in the medium to longer term.
On 18 May 2018, Napwu secretary general Peter Nevonga wrote a scathing letter to Shivute in which he scastigates Namwater for proceeding with plans to ring in changes which affect the working conditions of bargaining unit members, without consulting the union.
Nevonga warned Namwater against withholding information and underestimating the extent to which Napwu is involved in policy matters.
The Napwu boss also accused Shivute of “demonstrating the highest degree of bad faith”.
“Being as it may, my office is receiving information that Namwater appears to continue with the Organisational structure without our participation albeit that you seem to have selectively been calling one of the Workplace Committee members to attend meetings related to an unexplained procedure regarding the subject matter and even keep making reference thereto in your internal communications with staff members,” charged Nevonga.
Nevonga warned that the zeal to implement the new changes at all costs is generating uneasiness amongst Namwater staff.
“Any further delay is likely to generate labour unrest, hence I urge you Dr. Shivute, to act without further delay to facilitate mutual engagement. Since my office has been requesting your office to provide us with documentary information relating to this matter. I would like to state that this will be my last attempt failure which, Napwu will be left with no other option than to seek remedial course without further notice,” said Nevonga.
However, while Nevonga claims that Namwater has kept the union in the dark, Shivute responded to Nevonga’s letter on 18 June 2018 informing him that Namwater will commence a process to review its Corporate Strategy that was developed in 2015.
The review will be facilitated by Deloitte as the external partner.
“As an important stakeholder to Namwater, I would like to invite the Union to be part of the leadership team that will ultimately craft the strategy of the Corporation for the next years,” he said.
Shivute gave assurance that no jobs will be shed during the restructuring process.
“When the process commenced in 2013, I assured all employees that there will be no retrenchments within the Corporation. I must assure you once again that we have made sure that no employee lost their job as a result of this structure review and grading exercise,” he said.
But before the new structure is implemented, the water entity needs approval from the Ministry of Public Enterprises.
Shiivute said Namwater is currently in the process of preparing the submission for the exemption, and if granted, the new structure will be implemented.
“At the current moment all chiefs and heads have been presented with the proposed structure which was approved by the board. The job evaluation results can however not be presented to the Corporation until such a time that approval is granted,” Shivute said.
In an internal circular sent to Namwater employees on 30 April 2018, seen by The Patriot, Shivute reiterated that the organisational structure review of Namwater is crucial to ensure that the company’s workforce is effectively aligned to respond to the requirements of the new company strategy.