Unam bypasses and ignores unions: Nantu

04 Jun 2013 08:50
WINDHOEK, 04 JUN (NAMPA) - The Namibia National Teachers' Union (Nantu) expressed unhappiness with the management of the University of Namibia (Unam) for failing to adhere to the principles of a recognition agreement signed in 1995.
That agreement was also signed by the Namibia Public Workers? Union (Napwu).
Speaking during a media briefing here on Tuesday, Nantu's Secretary-General (SG) Basilius Haingura said the Unam management completely bypassed and ignored the unions in most matters pertaining to the conditions of service of its employees.
He said this amounts to a gross violation of their rights contained in the recognition agreement and the Labour Act, which regulates the employment environment in the country.
?The Unam management is acting as if it operates outside the law, and as if the university is privately-owned by individuals,? charged Haingura.
He said amongst the unresolved issues which the unions have been at loggerheads with against the management of Unam for five years now involves the invigilation administrative process.
The unionist explained that at this point, there is complete confusion surrounding the upcoming examinations with regards to invigilation administration, saying invigilation is not an academic function.
?Despite this matter being on the negotiation table for so long, the parties could not reach an agreement,? he said, adding that Unam rather put that matter on a Special Senate Agenda, at which the unions have no representation.
Haingura stressed that the unions voiced their concern at this unprocedural approach, but were ignored, and this has left the unions with no choice but to register a dispute at the Office of the Labour Commissioner.
?This too was ignored, and Unam is now using its unilateral Senate resolution to intimidate, harass and victimise academic employees,? he stated.
Haingura made it clear that the unions remain firm in their stance that invigilation is not an academic function, and therefore instructed their members to disregard any instructions issued by the Unam management.
?In response to the union?s instruction not to invigilate, the Unam management acted contrary by issuing warning letters and employing intimidatory tactics to force academics to invigilate,? he said.
Haingura said any warning letters issued by Unam are deemed to be null and void by the unions, and academics are thus instructed not to sign any documents in this regard.
Unam also failed to engage with the recognised unions when it decided to transfer some of its employees to coastal town Henties Bay, following its decision to convert its research centre there into a fully-fledged campus.
?To transfer staff from one duty station to another in itself is a change of conditions of employment of the staff, which is a subject for negotiation,? he explained, adding that this also leaves the unions with no option but to register a dispute at the Office of the Labour Commissioner.
Haingura said until the relocation matter is resolved between the unions and Unam, the affected staff members shall not be compelled to sign any agreement to relocate.