Embattled Nantu SG Speaks Out - AllAfrica.com

Windhoek — In the wake of a series of wildcat teachers' strikes over wages and improved conditions of service, New Era journalist, Lorraine Kazondovi, spoke to Namibia National Teachers' Union (Nantu) Secretary General, Basilius Haingura.

The embattled Nantu leader spoke at length about the underlying issues that precipitated the seismic labour upheavals that have reverberated across the country.

Mr Basilius Haingura, how often did Nantu discuss the salary negotiations with the teachers prior to the signing of the 8 percent across-the-board increase?

"Prior to negotiations, Nantu normally sends letters to the regions requesting members to provide input on what we present to government. On January 26 this year, we sent a letter to the regions to ask them about what to present to the government. We called a National Teachers' Council (NTC), which is the highest decision-making body, and we summarised their submissions, which we forwarded to the Office of the Prime Minister. During the negotiation process, you observe if matters are getting out of the mandate and then you approach the members through the structures to inform them of what you are confronted with and ask for advice before you continue with negotiations. In this case, the framework of the negotiations was within the mandate and there was no need to come back to the members. The members requested an inflation adjustment and for us to focus on fringe benefits and that is what we did. There may be a misunderstanding on the negotiation process among the teachers and Nantu members."

It appears that some of the teachers are not happy with this increase, why is this so? And will Nantu renegotiate with government for the extra 32 percent the teachers are demanding?

"There is a lack of participation by Nantu members in union activities. We solicited the mandate for negotiations from the regions and discussed the issues with all relevant members, except for the Khomas Region. As long as members ignore us, they will not know what's going on. As a result, some woke up in October to come up with a 40 percent demand. You cannot expect the negotiating team to withdraw the first submission (submitted in February 2012) and put this one in. And we cannot renegotiate, because the financial year is already concluded. They can wait for the next round of negotiations, which would be during the 2016/2017 financial year (FY). The package concluded is divided into three financial years. During the 2012/2013 FY we agreed on an 8 percent salary increase, as well as the increase in the housing subsidy, transport and medical aid. In the 2013/2014 FY, the job evaluation and regrading will be implemented as of April 01, 2013 and this would mean an automatic improvement in salaries. In the 2014/2015 FY we agreed on a salary adjustment of 10 percent as of April 01, 2014."

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