Industrial action looming at NSI
A storm is brewing at the Namibian Standards (NSI) following delays in labour talks between Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) and the management of the regulatory board, The Villager can report.
The misunderstanding with the labour unions is threatening to plunge the organisation into a strike.
Investigations by The Villager also show that some of the senior staff is not happy with the renewal of the Chief Executive Officer Ruindja Kaakunga.
Napwu is demanding hefty increases including basic Salary increment of at least 15%, medical Aid - 90/10, housing allowance - 80% (NSI does not have a subsidy for housing), transport Allowance – N$700 to N$950, sick leave days - 120 per cycle as per labour law.
Highly place sources within the organisation told The Villager that it’s thought that negotiations are dragging and deliberately delayed by the senior management in order for the union to settle for their proposed percentage due to pressure from the employees.
“The biggest threat NSI faces is that if employees go on strike during September, they might lose on accreditation and won't be able to fulfill their mandate which means all exports requiring NSI seal will not be exported to the European (EU) market. There are issues if you dig a bit deeper into the labour issues of the NSI especially the testing centre in Walvis which is a vital department and revenue creator for the NSI," the source said.
He also added that, "Everything is covered up hence the fact that you barely here about NSI in the media, not even good news. The NSI has a Regulatory and Consumer Protection Department (Cecilia Hinda as General Manager) but does nothing and only lab testing. There's no consumer protection initiatives, something that could've avoided the fiasco in the papers”.
Meanwhile the Minister of Trade and Industry Calle Schlettwein also confirmed the extension but denied rumours that his ministry is contemplating cutting down the budget allocated to the regulatory board.
“We haven’t cut the funding it’s just that we didn’t give them all the money they requested because they wanted to open up more laboratories but those projects exceeded our budget because we can’t just look at them alone there are other projects from other institutions that we need to look at as well”.
Another source within the organisation said Napwu is asking NSI to release report on three salary review done by various consultant since 2012.
“They have been sitting on this ever since but approval for implementation is being sought from the board, however, they employees and union where never informed. It is the believe from the employees that NSI pays way below market yet the senior managers get performance bonuses every year and get their salary increment each year. It also another believe that the NSI's Board is not fully in the know of the demands from the union and only receives modified information from the CEO. NSI currently offers 7.5% (this is part of annual budget),” he said.
“There's no reason given for this but we are all aware that his term expires this year. Why? We not sure. The CEO's term is ended but he got an extension to remain until December.
Kaakunga refused however could not confirm nor deny the challenges facing the organization and also refused to talk about his contract extension.
“What’s the problem I don’t know why The Villager is always writing about NSI? What does my contract have to do with the labour dispute? Why are you asking me I am not my own employer you can ask the Standard Council who employed me” he fumed.
He also added that, “The negotiations are ongoing there is no labour dispute if the union told you that then it’s news to me. NSI has always been meeting its mandate. I was born and bred in Namibia but it’s only The Villager which has been writing about NSI what is the issue”.
By Timoteus Shihepo for the Villager