Teachers vote Yes to strike

19 Sep 2016 18:10pm
WINDHOEK, 19 SEP (NAMPA) – Over 20 400 teachers have voted to strike and demand an eight per cent salary increase from Government.
The Namibia National Teachers’ Union (Nantu) on Monday announced the results of a voting process which took place from 06 to 15 September. Teachers voted whether to strike or not after Government offered them five per cent salary increase. Government said it is prioritising the current drought and lack of water situation. It offered seven per cent for the 2017/18 financial year.
A total of 20 473 teachers voted in favour of a strike, representing about 95,1 per cent of teachers, while 958 voted against demonstrating.
About 29 118 teachers and staff members of Nantu were eligible to vote.
At a media conference on Monday, Nantu President Simeon Kavila said the demand for a salary increase of eight per cent remains reasonable and justifiable, considering inflation rates and the cost of living.
“The same people who are expecting teachers to understand the economic situation of the country have awarded themselves benefits of water and electricity between N.dollars 2 520 and N.dollars 4 560,” he said.
Kavila added that politicians should have taken into account the issues of drought and unemployment before increasing their own salaries and benefits.
He noted that teachers no longer have confidence in the Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse Himarwa after her utterances on teachers being misled and unpatriotic, and that her actions do not guarantee a future working relationship with teachers and Nantu leadership.
The teachers’ union president also expressed concern over some ministers and high-ranking government officials interfering with the voting process by making pronouncements on how teachers should vote before and while the process was ongoing.
The highest number of votes in favour of the strike were Kavango West, where 1 158 out of 1 354 teachers said yes (98,7 per cent); followed by the Kavango East where 1 663 out of 1 840 (97,9 per cent) voted in favour of striking for a higher increase; and Omusati Region where 3 040 out of 3 914 teachers (98 per cent) voted to strike.
The Ohangwena and Oshikoto regions had the highest votes cast against the demonstration.
The date for the nationwide strike has not yet been determined.
The union is expected to announce the rules of the upcoming strike on Wednesday.
Kavila indicated that those who voted against the strike exercised their democratic right and if they decide to go to work during the strike, the union would not interfere.
Should the strike commence during the examination period, he said, exams would have to be put on hold.
The strike will run indefinitely until Government meets the teachers’ demands.