Government is taking teachers for granted: Haingura

27 Jul 2016 19:00pm
WINDHOEK, 27 JUL (NAMPA) - Namibia National Teachers’ Union (Nantu) Secretary-General (SG) Basilius Haingura has threatened with unspecified action should Government fail to adhere to their demands.
Nantu requested an eight per cent salary increment for all teachers employed in public schools for the 2016/17 financial year, to which Government only agreed to a five per cent increment.
The parties now look set for a collision when they meet on 10 August with the Office of the Labour Commissioner.
Speaking during a media briefing here Tuesday, Haingura claimed that Government is deliberately prolonging the process and by so doing, “taking the education sector for granted”.
“Nantu would like to inform Government employees under our bargaining unit that the scheduled conciliation could not materialise as planned,” said Haingura.
He said attempts to resolve the matter amicably failed as Government sent officials without instruction or mandate to the negotiations.
This comes after Government officials requested for a postponement of negotiations, which Nantu opposed.
Haingura noted that Nantu is displeased with the involvement of the Office of the Attorney-General in the negotiations, which he said was a deliberate attempt to intimidate the union.
Nantu currently has a membership of 27 000 teachers, according to the SG.
“We reaffirm our demand, which is an eight per cent increment for the teaching fraternity,” said Haingura.
He also claimed that Nantu is aware of “delaying tactics” on the part of the government to deliberately prolong the process so that Nantu can eventually agree on the five per cent salary adjustment proposal.
Government requested the postponement of the conciliation process from the initial 13 July to 26 July 2016 but it was again postponed, indefinitely.
“Instead, we went back and forth on arguing the presence of a legal practitioner representative from the government. Nantu's conviction is that the matter is not complex and does not require legal representation,” he said.
Haingura also claimed that Government is failing to uphold the constitution to suit “their hidden agenda and confuse the nation”.
“Nantu does not condone the attitudes of the government and reject it with contempt. As a matter of fact we will not allow the government to take us for a ride,” he charged.
Both parties have been locked in tense talks since May 2015.
Last year, Nantu agreed to a five per cent increment and demanded a further eight per cent for the 2015/16 financial year.
The increment adjustments will go on for a period of three years, according to Haingura.
He said the outcome of the upcoming events will determine their next course of action.
Earlier last month, Secretary to Cabinet and head of the negotiating team, George Simataa noted that Government cannot adhere to the eight per cent demand in view of other pressing challenges.
“We cannot dish out money while there are people out there who are sleeping with hunger and not having a roof over their head. The teachers that are asking for an increment are people that are already having a comfortable life; let’s give Government an opportunity to prioritise other sectors,” he said.
Simataa singled out the predominant drought and critical water shortages across the country, the need of serviced land and high unemployment among the youth.