Windhoek — Government has warned striking teachers who have rejected the 8 percent salary increment that "working for the State is not a right but a privilege."
Late on Wednesday night Secretary to Cabinet Frans Kapofi reached an agreement on salary increments for teachers with Napwu General Secretary, Peter Nevonga, and Nantu General Secretary, Basilius Haingura. Yesterday, the government negotiating team led by Kapofi and the two officials representing civil servants signed an agreement that entails a salary adjustment of 8 percent across the board, backdated to April.
The housing allowance for staff below the management cadre in the salary bracket N$18 930 to N$52 377 will now be doubled as from November 1, from N$300 to N$600, while the housing allowance for those in the salary bracket N$54 147 to N$133 593 will also be increased from N$400 to N$800 and those earning up to N$373 428 will now receive a housing allowance of N$1000, from the current N$500.
Other perks that have been increased as from November 1 are the incentive for staff stationed in remote areas, while the transport allowance for staff below the management cadre will be increased by 15 percent, including an 8 percent motor vehicle allowance for those in management.
Moreover, staff in the management cadre will now receive an increase of N$3.50 from the N$2.50 as vehicle allowance for each kilometre travelled while on official duty.
But the striking teachers in the Khomas Region have turned down the government offer that was agreed for all public servants.
They are demanding a 40 percent salary increment. Teachers who continued to gather at the Khomasdal Stadium yesterday said they are not prepared to accept the 8 percent offer and will wait for the remaining 32 percent before they return to teaching.
During the signing of the agreement, Kapofi said: "Working for the State is not a right but a privilege. If they think they are in a position to abuse that privilege, they can do so. If they decide not to teach - they must know the elastic of every rubber has a limit. You can't just pull it and pull it. Government will not allow this."
He added that no one should doubt the government's ability to restore order because appropriate action will be taken.
"The Republic is founded on the basis of the law. Just give the process time as there are procedures to follow to ensure that eventually justice is done," he said.
Napwu General Secretary Peter Nevonga, and Nantu Secretary General Basilius Haingura told the striking teachers that if they lost faith in Haingura, as they allege, they should follow Nantu procedures to declare a vote of no-confidence in him.
There will also be a full implementation of job evaluation and the grading system, as well as the introduction of an incentive scheme for attracting and retaining scarce skills required in the public service as of April 1, 2013, it has emerged.
Public servants in the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources will also get danger and risks allowances as of April 1, 2013.
Government and the two trade unions thanked those civil servants who remained patient and understanding until the negotiation process was concluded amicably without disrupting the provision of services to the public. They hope that a speedy return to normality will occur for the resumption of service to the people.
The Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso), which last week condemned the striking teachers, made a U-turn and are now backing them in all their demands. "Teachers are being paid peanuts, if teachers are not happy with the 8 percent, then learners and Nanso are also not happy. Parents also joined us to show their solidarity. It is unfortunate that schools still have teachers. Government must go back and re-negotiate," said Nanso Deputy Secretary, Sharonice Busch.
Learners from schools such as Concordia, Hage Geigob, David Bezuidenhout, Immanuel Shifidi, Acacia, Augustineum and El Dorado in the capital yesterday marched from their respective schools to support the striking teachers. "Teachers are being ill-treated. They deserve more money. Government must give them money because the strike has negatively impacted our education. Our principal keeps postponing our exams. If nothing is done learners will end up on the streets doing all social evils," said Joebron Kambombo, a Grade 9 learner at Concordia.
Jennefer Tjamuaha, also a Grade 9 learner at Cosmos High School said government should pay the teachers otherwise there will be a high rate of failure this year.