Government can't afford teachers' increase; Geingob

12 Oct 2016 00:10am
WINDHOEK, 12 OCT (NAMPA) – President Hage Geingob has emphasised the need for Government and leadership of the Namibia National Teachers' Union (Nantu) to mitigate the impact of and avert the strike by teachers in the interest of learners.
The Head of State on Tuesday met with Nantu leadership at State House in a closed-door-meeting ahead of the national strike that more than 90 per cent of teachers had voted for.
Government has offered a five per cent salary increase and teachers are demanding eight.
In media briefing before the meeting, Geingob said Government can’t afford the demanded increase because of other financial obligations and constraints.
“Of the economic downturn - the country starting with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) contribution, which is the biggest one; we are now paying them back thousands. Then you have the commodity prices that went down, foreign companies who are constructing here that quote in US dollars and with the collapse of the rand, our foreign reserves have been affected and we are in a serious financial crisis.”
Geingob called on Nantu to work with Government and find an amicable way of overcoming the challenges and addressing teachers’ concerns.
He said Namibia comes from an oppressive system in which people were not allowed to strike, noting that the action is called for at a very inappropriate time when learners are writing exams.
A Labour Court hearing over the dispute between Government and Nantu regarding the rules of the planned national strike has been put on hold until Wednesday.
The hearing was postponed as per agreement reached by the two parties' legal representatives a few minutes before the case was to be heard on Monday.
The postponement was allowed to enable the lawyers of the two parties to properly file court documents before the Registrar of the High Court.
Government, through the Office of the Prime Minister, on Friday approached the Labour Court with an application for an urgent interdict to have the rules reviewed.
One of the rules regards the seven-day notice that expires on Thursday the strike is scheduled to begin.
A conciliator from the Office of the Labour Commissioner decided upon the seven-day rule after Nantu leaders and Government representatives failed to reach consensus on other rules.
The union’s leadership in the closed-door-meeting consisted of Nantu President, Simeon Kavila; Secretary-General (SG), Basilius Haingura; and Deputy SG, Loide Shaanika amongst others.
Government was represented by Geingob; Prime Minister (PM) Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila; Deputy PM Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah; Education, Arts and Culture Minister, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa; and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Frans Kapofi.