29 June 2011

Namibia: Govt Agrees Wage Deal

THE two trade unions for civil servants not only managed to negotiate a general salary increase of ten per cent for more than 90 000 workers, it also bargained Government into hiking transport and car allowances and reviewing various other benefits.

The current transport allowance for staff members below management level will jump by 23,8 per cent, while the car allowance for workers participating in the car scheme will also rise by ten per cent. The agreed increases will be backdated to April 1, Cabinet Secretary Frans Kapofi said yesterday.

Taxpayers will have to fork out N$844 million to foot the new salary bill.

Deputy Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein last night said this budget will not be overrun. "Should the entire salary increase bill be more, individual ministries will have to fund the extra money from their savings," he said.

The N$844 million tabled by Finance Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila as a surprise budget amendment in April will up Government's salary payouts this year from N$10,3 billion to N$11,1 billion, and will hike Namibia's deficit for the year by nearly nine per cent to more than N$10,5 billion.

Kapofi, on behalf of Government, yesterday afternoon signed the agreement with Basilius Haingura, secretary general of the Namibian National Teachers Union, and Peter Nevonga, general secretary of Namibian Public Workers Union.

The negotiations, drawn out over nearly three months, were "most difficult" and a "process of give and take", all parties agreed.

Up until the last minute Government's negotiating team and that of the unions were still at loggerheads, holding up the official signing ceremony for nearly half an hour.

"We spent an hour just dealing with one word," Kapofi apologised for the delay.

Besides the increases, the parties also agreed to set up a committee to investigate the housing benefits of employees. They must give feedback to the main negotiating team by the end of November.

Most of the outstanding issues from a memorandum of agreement in 2009 must be settled within a month and the main negotiating team must be briefed, it was further decided.

This includes the danger allowance for the Ministry of Fisheries, a revised benefits structure for Government's medical aid scheme, Psemas, as well as a comprehensive policy proposal on incentives for scarce skills, remoteness and hardship.

Furthermore, a new job evaluation and grading system must be finalised urgently and presented to Government by the end of the year.

The recognition agreements between Government, Nantu and Napwu must also be reviewed within a month.

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