13 November 2012

Namibia: Health Workers Abandon Strike Idea

Windhoek — Health workers led by nurses at the Windhoek Central and Katutura State hospitals have resolved they will not go on strike today (Tuesday) as they indicated last week.

Health workers, in particular nurses and pharmacists have since last year threatened industrial action if their demands for salary re-structuring and re-grading are not met.

Last week, health workers met in the Katutura State Hospital's nurses' home dining hall to strategise on possible industrial action if their demands for better wages and service conditions fell on deaf ears.

This was despite the fact that the government negotiating team already signed an eight percent salary increment deal for all civil servants backdated to April.

The nurses at the meeting that took place last Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction with the 8 percent increase and said they would submit a petition to their employer and the government negotiating team to demand better service conditions as well as salary restructuring and re-grading.

If that petition fell on deaf ears, they threatened industrial action that would negatively affect essential services such as acute care, the intensive care unit, ambulance services and the maternity wards.

Last year nurses targeted the National Immunisation Day (NID) campaign to demonstrate and express dissatisfaction with their wages, including re-grading and salary restructuring, amongst others.

However, yesterday Abner Shopati, a registered nurse who is also the Secretary General of the unrecognised Namibia Nurses Union (Nanu) told New Era that nurses would no longer embark on the threatened industrial action.

Shopati said apart from the 8 percent increment for civil servants, which includes health workers, other benefits such as housing and transport allowances have also been increased.

Furthermore, re-grading would also be done with effect from April 01, 2013. Shopati said health workers did not have a clear understanding of the outcome of the negotiations that took place last week. "They (health workers) were not aware that re-grading was approved with effect from 01 April 2013," Shopati told New Era. He added that the nurses and health workers would wait until next year to analyse the content of re-grading but expressed overall satisfaction with the outcome of the negotiations.

Meanwhile, teachers in the Karas Region returned to work yesterday. According to a Nampa report, classes are now in full swing, after a disruption, which started on October 31 through November 08.

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