23 November 2012

Namibia: Last Strikers Back At School

ABOUT 200 teachers in the Khomas Region, who had refused to return to work after salary negotiations were concluded, have since returned to their schools.

Committee member Mika Ndadi yesterday told The Namibian that although returning to school was not what they wanted, they decided to go back “for the sake of the learners”.

“Unfortunately we had to go back to school but the general feeling of working conditions still remains a big concern for us. We are currently pushing for a meeting with the minister of education to air our concerns. Should the minister fail to see us before next year, we have a plan for him next year,” said Ndadi.

“Even though we are silent, we still have a few things in the background that we are running. Establishing a new teachers’ union is a thought we are entertaining but it is something we still need to research and consult on.

“We are also calling on our members to renounce their Nantu membership because as long as Nantu is affiliated to the ruling party, negotiations will never be to the benefit of members.”

The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Education, Alfred Iilukena, has denied allegations that he had sent out a letter informing teachers who took part in an illegal strike three weeks ago that N$750 would be deducted from their January salaries for each day of the strike.

An SMS published in The Namibian on Wednesday reads: “There is an SMS going around that the PS of Education has sent letters informing teachers that money will be deducted from their salaries, come January, for the recently ended strike. What is shocking is that, according to the letter, N$750 will be deducted per day. How is this possible? We don’t earn that much per day. Please be informed that we will go on strike again if you do that and we will not give up easily this time. We are not slaves.”

Iilukena said no decision had been taken yet on the amount to be deducted from the strikers’ salaries.

The strike lasted two weeks before salary negotiations were concluded between the government and the bargaining unions, namely the Namibia National Teachers’ Union and Namibia Public Worker’s Union.

“All we are saying is that in terms of the Public Service Act, if you are a civil servant and you are absent from your post without any valid reason, then it’s considered leave without pay. Teachers are civil servants and they know what the Act says. We have not announced how much is going to be deducted but we will implement the Act,” said Iilukena.

Iilukena would not reveal when his ministry plans to deduct the money, saying only that it was “immaterial” at this point.

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