The Namibian (Windhoek)

2 November 2012

Namibia: TUN Joins the Teacher Strike

THE Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) says striking teachers might not accept a 20% salary increase which is reportedly being negotiated for them by the government and the Namibia National Teachers Union (Nantu).

TUN president Mahongora Kavihuha, who addressed striking teachers in the Oshana and Ohangwena regions yesterday, said his union intended to replace Nantu and take over the negotiations.

However, in terms of the law only a recognised bargaining agent can negotiate with the government.

Previously when the Namibia Nurses Union (Nanu) tried to negotiate on behalf of nurses, the government refused to grant them recognition because doing so would have been a breach of their agreement with the Namibia Public Workers Union.

At the moment Napwu holds bargaining status for all civil servants except teachers, the police, prisons, central intelligence staff and the defence force, while Nantu represents teachers.

The Office of the Prime Minister at that time informed Nanu that for the government to entertain its demands, the union would first have to approach the High Court to obtain a court order allowing nurses to pull out of the Napwu agreement.

TUN’s Kavihuha said yesterday that their members had joined the illegal teachers’ strike.

“Very soon we will take over the bargaining. They shouldn’t be surprised if instead of accepting the outcome of the negotiations, the teachers opt to continue striking. The leadership has betrayed the teachers, they have thrown the teachers on the side of the road. We feel obligated to take care of them and we are going to do that until the last bullet,” he alleged.

TUN claims it has more than 7 000 members.

The union had given Nantu an ultimatum until October 31 to conclude negotiations on teachers’ salaries.

Kavihuha described as “barbaric” the behaviour of the police in the Oshana Region when they arrested striking teachers for picketing without permission.

“The police should understand that they are the worst paid civil servants yet they have become the enemy of the employees. People are not people just to be arrested. We also want them to know that no amount of threat is going to move us. The teachers will only be moved when their demands are heard,” he said.

Meanwhile, the striking teachers have expressed a vote of no confidence in the leadership of Nantu.

They also called for the dismissal of Nantu general secretary Basillius Haingura.

TUN claims that Government and the negotiating unions pushed the civil servants to the extent of striking.

“Had they just provided the teachers with the feedback on their demands, this would not have gone this far,” Kavihuha said.

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