19 November 2012

Namibia: Nampower Strike Continues

TANGENI Kambangula, the spokesperson of NamPower, yesterday said that their employees remain on strike.

Upon enquiry, she said yesterday: “There is nothing new. They are still on strike.”

According to her, there were no discussions between NamPower’s management and the Mineworkers’ Union of Namibia (MUN). “We donÂ’t know what tomorrow [today] will bring.”

At this stage, none of NamPower’s operations have been been affected by the strike, she said.

On Friday, Mbanjanda Nguvauva, the MUN branch chairperson, also said that the strike was in full swing.

He said that NamPower’s management had not approached them for any discussions.

Nguvauva added that they plan a press conference for today to state their position.

On Friday, it was reported that NamPower counted on SADC counterparts to bail it out, should the strike lead to power outages. Board chairperson Leevi Hungamo said the parastatal hoped that an agreement would be reached with MUN before a power outage occurred.

“The industrial action will affect our operations and our mandate of ensuring that power is generated, transmitted and supplied to all our customers in the country and beyond.”

They have put contingency plans in place to make sure the impact is kept at a minimum, he said.

About 500 NamPower workers countrywide downed tools on Thursday over a dispute primarily about post-retirement medical aid benefits.

Nguvauva said workers demand that NamPower should pay 100% of all employees’ medical aid contribution once they retire.

According to Hungamo, this would cost the power provider N$90 million for this year alone.

Moreover, this would mean a power price hike of approximately 4% for the already burdened consumer, he said.

At the moment, 48 managers who joined NamPower before August 2004 enjoy 100% coverage of their medical aid contribution by the company, he said.

A total of 509 non-management employees who also joined before August 2005 have half their medical aid contributions covered.

He added that 21 managers and 333 non-management employees who joined after August 2004 have to pay for their own medical aid after retirement.

Hungamo said the board had considered taking away the post-retirement medical aid perk “but this was found not to be legally possible as this benefit was entrenched as a condition of service that can only be withdrawn through negotiation with concerned employees”.

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