20 November 2012

Namibia: Nampower and Union At Loggerheads

THE Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) yesterday charged that NamPower has consultants on its payroll at a cost of N$300 000 per month – some employed for close to ten years.

About this, Paulinus Shilamba, the managing director, said the provision of services at NamPower is in line with the parastatal’s tendering and procurement policy. “I don’t know what they are talking about.”

Furthermore, Shilamba “is enjoying the benefit of having two vehicles that are fully financed by NamPower”, said Jacky Karumbo, the acting MUN general secretary.

“In the event of one vehicle being out for service or broken, the MD uses a pool vehicle even to transport his kids to and from school. What is that total cost to the company?” Shilamba said that he was “not aware of that”.

Karumbo further said that government ministers travel by road to destinations in Namibia “while our mighty Shilamba is flying all over Namibia, even to Otjiwarongo for that matter. What is the cost of NamPower aviation department or the office of the MD? If NamPower can sustain such a high cost for one person’s luxuries, why is it strange and such a difficult matter for the rest of the people to demand the basics?”

Shilamba retaliated by saying: “That is nonsense. We have planes for our operations and we are using it for that. There is nothing wrong with that.”

The MD further came under fire for allegedly announcing the company’s offers as agreements with the union. “He communicated this misleading information to the entire staff and public as settlement offers. On several occasions, we have requested him to refrain from this practice, but our request fell on deaf ears.”

Karumbo said the union demanded a 10% salary increase and a 20% hike in the housing allowance of employees in the grades 10 to 17.

Apart from that they want a 100% medical aid coverage for all employees after retirement.

Shilamba yesterday said that the union and NamPower management had already agreed to a 9% salary increase. He accused the union of greed. “Why do they keep on changing? These people are well paid.”

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

The 100% medical aid cover would cost NamPower N$90 million for this year alone, it was reported earlier.

Moreover, this would mean a power price hike of approximately 4% for the already burdened consumer, NamPower board chairperson Leevi Hungamo said last week.

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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