Napwu members striking illegally in Swakopmund

14 Oct 2015 19:10pm
SWAKOPMUND, 14 OCT (NAMPA) - A group of 32 institutional workers affiliated to the Namibia Public Workers’ Union (Napwu) in Swakopmund downed tools on Wednesday, demanding bigger salary increments from Government.
The strike is considered illegal because the members did not follow procedures such as declaring a dispute, voting for a strike, and informing the union about their intention to strike seven days before taking industrial action.
Speaking to Nampa at the Mondesa playground on behalf of the group, Lazarus Letsholo said they will not return to work before they receive a favourable answer.
“From today on we will meet here every morning, and we will not go to work at all,” said Letsholo.
He said they submitted a petition to Napwu Secretary-General Peter Nevonga on Monday, informing him of the strike and their demands for their basic salary to increase from N.dollars 2 600 to N.dollars 5 000.
They also demand a housing allowance of N.dollars 1 000, instead of the current N.dollars 600.
On top of that, the group, which include Government cleaners and gardeners, also said the recent 6 per cent increment for civil servants to be backdated from 01 September 2015 is too little, as it only gives them an extra N.dollars 140 on their basic salary.
Secretary to Cabinet, George Simataa announced the increments during a media conference at State House last week.
Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations, and Employment Creation, Bro Mathew Shingwandja on Wednesday said he is not aware of the strike.
He said that he does not understand why the workers have to demand increments when they just received a 6 per cent increase.
“If they are not represented by the union then it is illegal. I hope they know the consequences of their actions. They should not come back to Government and cry when they are in trouble,” said the PS.
Nevonga on Wednesday denied knowledge of the strike.
“I do not know of any strike or petition. If they strike it is illegal and Napwu has nothing to do with it,” he said.
The regional coordinator for Napwu in Erongo, John Ngolombe also confirmed that the strike is illegal.
He said efforts to advise the striking workers to follow procedures failed as the group insisted they are tired of low salaries and want to strike.
The workers said they have been sending letters to Ngolombe and Nevonga since last year, demanding the same benefits but never received any feedback.
Nevonga denied this, but Ngolombe said such letters did not receive attention because they were not written with the consent of the union.
He said workers are supposed to work with the union in order to have proper representation as their own petitions will not be considered.
The same petition was given to Erongo Regional Governor, Cleophas Mutjavikua on Wednesday. He requested 10 of the striking workers to meet him for advice on Thursday.