Wednesday 12 May 2021
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NBC staff threaten boycott

Should the national broadcaster Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) fail to reach consensus with its employees over the promised salary increase of 6 percent and back pay due to them since last year, the employees vowed to exhaust all avenues in order to shut down the station.
This is not the first time the employees have fielded this threat, following a demonstration last month at the headquarters over the same matter. The furious workers say the management’s deliberate and continued delay in the payment of the promised 2017 salary increase has frustrated about 800 employees who say they feel unvalued by their employer. This week, the employees boycotted a meeting called by the company’s board chairperson to discuss the salary increment. They say they have long requested audience with management, but the powers at the broadcaster shied away.
“We decided not to go to the meeting because for too long have they been avoiding us to talk about the promises they made to us in 2016. That is why we decided not to attend any meeting that intends to sweet talk us when all they should be doing is paying us our money,” said an employee who is privy to the salary talks, but opted to speak on condition of anonymity.
NBC’s Chief Commercial Officer Umbi Karuaihe-Upi denied the meeting boycott saying the meeting was never aimed at addressing the salary increment in the first place but the financial position of the company.
“The meeting at hand was a meeting which was called by the Board of Directors to be addressed by the Board Chairman to update the staff of the NBC on the operations and financial position of the NBC.  The meeting took place and the discussions were not salary negotiations,” she said.
This stance is said to have angered employees even more saying the reluctance of the company to table matters on salaries is evidence that the company does not care. If management and the workers union (NAPWU) do not reach consensus, The Patriot understands that the two parties are set to appear in the Labour court today in which the presiding labour commissioner will pronounce himself on the way forward.
“We will wait until Friday to hear what the labour commissioner says on the matter. What we know for sure is that if there is no 6 percent and the commissioner grants us a certificate of strike, we will inform the management in advance and finally shut down the broadcaster,” said the worker on Wednesday.
“Because of the threat, they have been having many meetings this week. We don’t know that they are about so we will have to wait and hear. But if we do not get our money, the country will be staring at dark screens,” the employee added.
The other thorn in the flesh is that of deducted benefits such as medical aid and pension monies which were not paid to the service providers.
The employees this week revealed to this publication that there are growing sentiments that there should be charges laid against management for deducting money from salaries for various services and benefits but not paying over that money.
“If I retire today, this means I will not get my entire pension if I will even any get at all. It is daylight fraud for the company to deduct money for my salary and not pay it over to the relevant body. Where does that money go because according to my pay-slip, it has been deducted?” queried another employee. NBC says it has not been spared by the persisting national economic squeeze. Karuaihe-Upi said the issue around the retirement fund with the associated challenges, is not a secret hence the action contemplated is linked to lack of adequate funding from the government.
“We are on record for having stated that discussions between the board and the shareholder representative (the line ministry) are on-going. Our payments have been ad- hoc given the precarious financial position we find ourselves in,” she said. “What is important to note is that our own revenues have increased and the missing part is the appropriate funding from the shareholder. It is expected that the Board of Directors will pronounce themselves soon on the issue of lack of funds and the way forward,” she added.
Last year, the NBC had a budget of about N$345 million, despite their allocation from government being cut by half over recent years.

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