21 November 2012

Namibia: Nampower Strike Over

After extensive discussions the national power utility, NamPower, and the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) yesterday signed an agreement on wage negotiations, ending the strike that started last Thursday.

The agreement was signed without the two parties having come to a consensus on the bone of contention during negotiations, which was the provision of 100 percent medical aid for all employees after retirement. Currently, only the company's management and those employees who joined the company before August 2004 enjoy this contentious benefit.

The two parties however agreed to continue pursuing discussions with regard to post-retirement medical aid, as well as the provision of medical cover for medically unfit employees.

"The two parties will draw up terms of reference for this committee and agree on a timeline to conclude the matter," announced Paulinus Shilamba, the managing director of the power utility company. While Shilamba would not give an exact figure on what the new wage increments would cost the company during the current financial year, he said the amount ranged between N$5 million and N$10 million.

While the Electricity Control Board (ECB) regulates NamPower's costs to the consumer, Shilamba said that in all likelihood the consumer would ultimately have to bear the brunt of the wage increase.

The agreement, which is backdated to July 01, 2012, stipulates that all employees within the MUN's bargaining unit (grades 10 to 18) will receive a 9 percent wage increase and employees outside the bargaining unit in grades 2 to 6 will receive a 6.5 percent increment.

Employees in grades 7 to 9 will receive a 7.5 percent adjustment on their total package.

In terms of a housing allowance adjustment, employees in grades 10 to 12 will receive 11 percent, those in grades 13 to 17 will receive 15 percent and Grade 18 staff will receive a 35 percent adjustment.

According to Shilamba, the strike affected some of the company's operations in the regions, resulting in some power outages in the rural areas of the country.

But the majority of the country's power distribution, as well as energy trading with neighbouring countries, remained unaffected by the strike.

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