02 Oct 2013 09:40
WINDHOEK, 02 OCT(NAMPA) - The High Court of Namibia on Wednesday ordered the Ministry of Education (MoE) to immediately stop issuing final written warnings and the deduction of monies from those teachers who took part in an illegal strike during October and November last year.
The MoE has over the past few months been sending final written warnings to teachers, as well as notices with instructions to all regional education offices to deduct monies from teachers who took part in an illegal strike.
This move by the Education Ministry prompted the leadership of the Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) at the end of last week to approach the High Court here with an urgent application, asking the court for an order to stop that Ministry from issuing final written warnings and deducting monies from teachers' salaries.
In a ruling on the urgent application handed down on Wednesday morning, High Court Judge Maphios Cheda gave an interim order interdicting the Ministry of Education and the Public Service Commission (PSC) - as respondents - from issuing the final written warnings and deducting monies from affected teachers.
The two respondents - Education Ministry and PSC- are hereby both ordered to stop making and/or continue to make any deductions of monies from the teachers' remuneration in lieu of leave without pay as a result of these teachers' alleged participation in a strike during October and November 2012, pending the resolution and outcome of the ongoing hearing of the arbitration case that is currently before the Office of the Labour Commissioner (case number CRWK-478-13), the judge said.
According to the court order, the two respondents were also ordered to pay back any money which was already deducted from the teachers' salaries after the referral of the dispute to the Office of Labour Commissioner Bro-Mathew Shinguandja.
It was further ordered that the two respondents should immediately withdraw all final warnings they issued against the teachers after the referral of the dispute to the Office of the Labour Commissioner.
In addition, the two respondents were ordered to jointly and severally foot the legal bills of TUN's successful urgent application.
Meanwhile, the respondents will return to the Windhoek High Court on a date and time to be determined by the Registrar of the High Court to come and tell the court why today's interim order should not be made final.
Prominent Windhoek-based lawyer, Advocate Steve Rukoro appeared for applicants TUN.
Tinashe Chibwana represented the Education Ministry and the PSC, acting on the instructions of the Office of the Government Attorneys.
In the matter, hundreds of school-teachers based in the Khomas Region and their colleagues in other regions went on a 'wildcat strike' in October and November last year, expressing unhappiness about the progress of salary negotiations between the Government, Nantu (Namibian National Teachers Union) and Napwu (Namibia Public Workers Union).
The negotiations, which began in October last year, ended in November of the same year when the parties involved in the negotiations agreed upon an eight per cent salary increment for civil servants, including teachers.
Shortly after reaching this salary increase agreement, the MoE then started issuing written letters for the deduction of monies from teachers who took part in the illegal strike.
Namibia has over 23 000 teachers.