29 October 2012

Namibia: Khomas Teachers Vow to Continue With Their Strike

CLOSE to 300 teachers belonging to the Namibia National Teacher’s Union (Nantu) in the Khomas Region have vowed not to return to work until they get feedback from the union on the progress of negotiations for salary increases.

The teachers went on strike on Friday and marched from the Immanuel Shifidi Senior Secondary School in Katutura to the Nantu offices, where they spent the whole day picketing.

They demanded answers from Nantu general secretary Basillius Haingura on the status of the salary negotiations.

The teachers are demanding a 40% salary increase.

They also adopted a vote of no confidence in Haingura, and want him removed from the leadership of the union while a new team negotiates their increases.

Friday’s strike was led by Nantu’s Khomas regional chairperson, Dankie Katjiuanjo, whom the National Teachers’ Council (NTC), the structure in charge of the overall affairs of Nantu, suspended with immediate effect on Friday from carrying out any union activities until further notice.

Teachers in the Otjozondjupa and Hardap regions also petitioned the union leadership last week.

Teachers in the Hardap Region want salary increases of between 20% and 40%, and say that the increases should not place them in the super-tax bracket.

They echoed a sentiment from the Khomas Region that pensions should not be taxed, and want teachers’ transport allowances increased from N$520 to N$1 000 per month.

The Hardap teachers said if their demands were not met by October 31, they would have “no other option than to go on strike”.

“Hulle vat ons nie kop toe nie (They are not taking us seriously). It’s high time we went on strike. We have decided no increment, no school,” the teachers said during their strike on Friday.

Nantu president Simeon Kavila said on Friday that the union’s activities for Khomas were assigned to the secretariat for the time being.

“The NTC observed that there are external forces misleading the members, therefore members are cautioned to follow proper channels of communication in line with Nantu constitution,” Kavila said.

Kavila said that the NTC could not respond on the demands of the Khomas teachers because their demands “are misleading and therefore fall outside the initial mandate of the negotiation team”.

“We acknowledge the slow pace of the negotiation process, however the process is at an advanced stage,” Kavila said.

He said the NTC would not support any “illegal strike”, explaining that industrial action can be taken only if all avenues have failed, and can only be commissioned by the president of the union.

The Deputy Minister of Education, David Namwandi, last week urged teachers in the region to refrain from striking, saying that the results could be damaging.

The strike comes at a time when grade 10 and 12 pupils are about to conclude their final examinations.

“The strike is on until we get proper answers. The government must stop threatening us. The more they threaten us, the more we will continue to strike,” said Francis Nchindo, one of the teachers who took part in the strike on Friday.

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