13 November 2012

Namibia: Nampower Workers to Strike

Windhoek — Over 500 NamPower workers could down tools on Thursday morning from 06h00 if no wage agreement is reached between employees and the power utility company's management.

The increasing labour unrest in Namibia has resulted in teachers, NBC workers and mineworkers, among others, embarking on crippling strikes over wages, with workers saying they are struggling to make ends meet.

"A strike is the last possible option and our doors are still open for negotiation," said branch chairman of the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN), Winston Nguvauva.

Speaking to New Era in a telephonic interview yesterday, Nguvauva said the union intended to serve NamPower with a notice to strike by the end of the working day yesterday (Monday).

The MUN which represents over 510 paid-up members at NamPower, started negotiations over salaries and benefits with the power utility in March this year when it handed over its demands to the utility's management.

Actual negotiations between the two parties started in April and after numerous postponements a deadlock was declared in September.

Following this development, a certificate of unresolved dispute was issued by the Labour Commissioner's Office on October 29.

The union, which initially asked for an increase of 13 percent, has since come down to 10 percent but is demanding a 20 percent increase in housing allowances and 100 percent in medical aid contributions, as well as a N$450 transport allowance for head office staff not making use of company transportation.

MUN's Nguvauva said NamPower is sticking to its offer of an 8.5 percent salary increase.

Nguvauva added that at the moment only management receive 100 percent medical aid contribution after retirement while employees who started before August 2004 receive 50 percent and those that started after August 2004 receive zero percent.

Both NamPower's Managing Director, Paulinus Shilamba, and the company spokesperson, Monica Nashandi, were unavailable for comment yesterday since they were said to be participating in a day-long workshop.

NamPower workers last staged a demonstration in front of the company's head office in September last year after negotiations had broken down.

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