Sunday 18 April 2021
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NIP workers’ anger spills into the streets

By Megameno Shikwambi

Workers at the troubled Namibia Institute of Pathology took to the streets this week demanding a pay rise following a 2018 directive for salary adjustments for the 2018/19 and 2019/20 financial years.
The workers are gunning for: a salary increment of 10% across the board for 1st April 2019, a transport allowance increment with N$200 for 2019/2020 financial years, a housing allowance  increment to 35% for 2019/20 financial year of the basic salary.
They have appealed to public enterprises minister Leon Jooste to have this directive implemented this year.
Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) in May accused NIP’s management for having breached an agreement signed in 2017 to increase junior worker’s salaries with 10% including N$200 transport allowance, and a 35% increase in the housing allowance.
To date, the board and acting management have not yet fulfilled their signed agreement. In 2017 NIP splashed N$35 million on its bosses while at the same time offering them a collective salary increment of N$2,9 million.
Last year (2018) the diagnosing pathology service provider offered the same people a combined salary increment of N$3.1 million.
Workers picketed at Zoo Park this week Thursday in the company of a police escort where they also submitted their petition to a representative of the minister. They have told Jooste that NIP is seriously rocked by a leadership vacuum due to the prolonged suspensions of executive management and the protracted disciplinary cases which is costing the company direly.
“Lawyers contracted to handle the disciplinary cases of the executives keep on delaying the process thereby milking the company. This begs to ask the question, how (were these) lawyers appointed? Were proper procurement processes followed? Please minister investigate.
We have the board of directors who simply do not have the best interest of the company at heart (and) time and again have failed to execute their fiduciary duties. Comrade Minister, are you aware that the new CEO’s recruitment process has been marred with more controversy. Recruitment process was not properly conducted, was biased in its entirety. How can a company secretary get involved in recruitment of a CEO to whom he would be reporting?” the workers queried by displaying posters.
The workers also took Jooste to task for allowing the outgoing board of directors which has been marred in controversy to recruit the new CEO.
They want the new board to deal with the recruitment process through reputable recruitment consultancy companies “to spare the good name and image of NIP”.
“All re-regrading inclusive of the company secretary and the chief internal auditor must be stopped forthwith. Why the need to only re-grade the two positions at the expense of all the staff members? Unnecessary consultancy fees were incurred already and that is wastage,” they said.
They have slammed the NIP company secretary for “dismally failing to advice the board of directors on the labour relations issue regarding the binding and signed agreement and recognition of the union”. The workers want Jooste to “intervene and save NIP from maladministration”. They have given him seven working days to get back to them. Meanwhile, Jooste’s representative said he would take the petition to the minister and revert.
NIP workers have also petitioned the health ministry saying they are “saddened, flabbergasted, distressed and very frustrated” at how the entity is being run by the board.
“NIP being a public enterprise mandated to provide laboratory health care services to the Namibia nation, has been and continues to be run like a private owned company belonging to the Directors of NIP Board.
They also told the health minister that NIP had become notorious for treating its human resources with negligence and subjecting them to mental torture.
Employees are unhappy yet many fear to express their unhappiness because of the manner they are labelled, subjected to unfair disciplinary procedures and victimized.
NIP is well-known to suspend its employees for unreasonable periods on full pay while it hardly can sustain key businesses that speaks to its mandate.
The Company is under resourced to the point of lacking basic critical necessities which put its core laboratory services at the risk of poor delivery or non-delivery altogether,” the group consisting of employees stated.
They have also said that the under-resourcing was placing NIP at unfair competition with non-Namibian Laboratory services and limiting NIP’s service expansion to all remote areas of the country.
The workers have claimed that NIP was now sailing on troubled waters.
According to them, some of the challenges are:  No Reagents at the laboratories, tests are being discontinued, some of the tests are being referred to South Africa, third parties (GIPF, Medical aid, Taxes) are not paid on time, suppliers are not being paid. They further petitioned the fact that  too much money is lost to lawyers for unconcluded disciplinary hearings.

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