Govt. institutional workers still on strike

20 Oct 2015 11:20am
OSHAKATI, 20 OCT (NAMPA) – About 500 Government employees from the northern regions of Oshana, Ohangwena, Omusati and Oshikoto remain protesting for better working conditions.
The group downed tools on Wednesday last week to show their disapproval of the 6 per cent salary increment agreed between the government and the Namibia Public Workers' Union (Napwu) and Namibia National Teachers' Union (Nantu) recently.
They gather under trees in the centre of the Oshakati town's Oneshila informal settlement from 08h00 to 17h00 every day since Wednesday.
The group members are mostly from the Health and Social Services; and Education, Arts and Culture ministries in northern Namibia.
Spokesperson of the group, Paulus Shapange told Nampa here on Monday that the striking employees, who include cleaners, matrons, chefs and administrative officers, demand a salary hike of 12 per cent.
Shapange stated that they will not go back to their duty stations before the government gives a positive answer to their demands.
“Six per cent salary increment makes no difference to us who are underpaid, and will it not rescue us from the impoverished situation in which the government dumped us for years,” he charged.
Last week, leader of the group, Anna Felix, told Nampa the workers have decided to suffer whatever consequences may come as a result of the planned strike, be it unpaid leave or any other punishment.
“We are already living under the poverty line because of the low salaries we get from the government.”
The same group staged a peaceful demonstration at Oshakati on 17 September this year, when they handed over a petition to the office of the Oshana Regional Governor, Clemens Kashuupulwa.
In their petition, they among others demanded that the government offer them improved conditions of service and salary increments within 14 working days.
The 14-day deadline is over and they have not received a response from Government and as such they decided to down tools.
Felix said no trade union is representing them at this stage and they will not allow Napwu to get involved in their strike. The workers do not want to belong to Napwu or any other union that is affiliated to Swapo, and are considering joining the Namibian National Labour Organisation (Nanlo).
The institutional employees say their salaries, which range from N.dollars 2 700 (the maximum amount for a cleaner) to N.dollars 8 000 (maximum amount for an administrative officer) is not enough when compared to the current cost of living.
Felix noted that an administrative officer receives a housing subsidy of N.dollars 270 000 in one financial year, which is insufficient to purchase a house in Namibia.
“We are also fighting for the outstanding bush allowance that the government promised to pay us in November 2012, and the salary re-grading which not all of us received in 2013,” Felix charged.
Speaking to Nampa on Monday, Kashuupulwa noted that the group did not follow procedures before starting with their strike, and appealed to them to go back to their duty stations because they face unpaid leave for all the days they are away from work.
“'Their strike is illegal, unlawful and they would be fired if they stay away from work for 31 working days,” the governor said, adding that supervisors do not know the whereabouts of their employees because such workers never asked for permission to strike.
Kashuupulwa pointed out that their strike would be legal only when a labour union is representing them to negotiate with the government on their behalf.