8 October 2012

Namibia: Pohamba Intervenes At Transnamib

PRESIDENT Hifikepunye Pohamba has intervened in the deadlocked wage talks between TransNamib and the Namibia Transport and Allied Workers Union in a bid to avoid a strike being planned by the union.

The railway parastatal's acting CEO, Eugenia Tjaronda, confirmed yesterday that Pohamba held talks with the union leaders on Friday and with the TransNamib management on Saturday.

Tjaronda said they were positive that a compromise would be reached to avert a strike.

Last week, TransNamib said they would need an additional N$11 million per year if they were to agree to the workers' demands.

The general secretary of Natau, John Kwedhi, yesterday said the talks were continuing and there was not much to say since they would meet with the President again today.

But Kwedhi indicated that the union would continue consulting its members on the possibility of a strike.

It is understood that a strike ballot will be delayed until after Pohamba has met the union and management as the President pushes for a solution that will avert a strike which can paralyse the country's economy.

Natau engaged TransNamib workers on Friday to discuss the option of a strike.

They plan to conduct a countrywide strike ballot today and the results will be released tomorrow. If the workers opt for a strike, 48 hours' notice would be submitted to TransNamib and the Namibian Police on the same day.

The union is demanding a 15% salary increase for A-band employees, 12% salary increases for B-band employees, plus an additional 15% increase in all other benefits, such as transport and housing allowances. The union also proposed a 10% salary increases for C-band employees.

TransNamib is offering a 5% increase across the board.

TransNamib blamed the last strike in February 2012 as one of the main factors contributing to its current cash-flow problems. It claimed to have lost about N$15 million as a result of that strike, which was declared illegal by the Labour Court in Windhoek.

Previous court records showed that TransNamib suffered losses of N$1,5 million per day as a result of the strike.

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