Teachers March to Nantu Office - AllAfrica.com
“A HUNGRY teacher is an angry teacher”; “Is teaching a calling to poverty?”; “Scholarships in Britain, Canada or USA to improve our English”; “For how long will Namibian teachers sleep in shacks?”
These were some of the messages written on placards carried by close to 300 teachers who staged a demonstration at the office of the Namibian National Teachers’ Union (Nantu) yesterday afternoon to hand over a petition calling on general secretary Basilius Haingura to report on the status of salary negotiations.
In the petition read by John Khamuseb, the Nantu Khomas regional mobiliser, the teachers threatened to go on strike by November 20 if the 25% salary increase they had proposed was not granted.
The teachers accused Haingura of moving at a “snail’s pace” with the negotiations, alleging that he wanted the process to drag on until the next financial year.
In addition to a salary increase, the teachers are also demanding a tax-free transport allowance, a tax-free housing allowance and a tax-free 13th cheque.
“The teachers are highly frustrated and impatient with the slow process of salary, wage and grading system negotiations that have been going on since October last year. The teachers are frustrated by the fact that the outcome of these negotiations are kept secret, as it was supposed to be reported back to the various structures of the union to reach our members at grassroots level,” read the petition.
Yet another placard read: “Love does not put food on the table. Neither does dedication and hard work. Negotiation time is over.”
The teachers also demanded better living conditions and incentives for rural teachers.
“The housing allowance [must] be brought up to [a] market-related rate of at least N$2 000 per month to justify house/flat rent for proper accommodation,” read the petition.
The petition also called for teachers’ income tax rate to be lowered from 32% to 15%.
The teachers also asked the government to speed up the investigation into the missing N$600 million of the Government Institutions’ Pension Fund.
Demonstrating their unhappiness with the GIPF’s missing millions, the teachers asked Namibia Public Workers’ Union (Napwu) general secretary Petrus Nevonga, who was present at the Nantu office during the demonstration, to leave the premises before they handed over the petition to Haingura.
Nevonga was on the GIPF board from July 1 1997 as a Napwu-appointed trustee, and was the chairperson of the fund’s investment committee for a long time. He recused himself from the GIPF board earlier this year while investigations were underway into the failed GIPF Development Capital Portfolio (DCP) loan scheme.
“Kindly remove the mafia,” one teacher remarked in Nevonga’s direction.
National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) secretary general Evilastus Kaaronda said the basic premise was that workers should take control.
“It is a good sign that teachers are not sitting back but fighting. The demonstration is a good sign of holding leaders accountable. Each of their demands requires a favourable answer because teachers are paid peanuts. Their salaries must be increased significantly to meet today’s economic demands,” he said.
In the same breath, Kaaronda called on the government to increase the salaries of police officers, adding that an increase would help curb corruption in the force.
Haingura, who said his office had not been notified of the demonstration, received the petition and said he would forward it to the relevant structures.
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