14 December 2012

Namibia: Govt to Pay Civil Servants

Windhoek — Secretary to Cabinet, Frans Kapofi, has confirmed civil servants will in a week's time receive backpay following the 8 percent salary increase that was negotiated between government and their unions.

The government negotiating team and the recognised trade unions, namely the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu), and the Namibia National Teachers Union (Nantu) concluded a salary agreement of 8 percent and other benefits for civil servants early last month.

Civil servants have for the past weeks been in the dark as to when they would get the increment that will be backdated to April this year. The news comes as a great relief for many civil servants, especially teachers and police officers, who were worried they would have to spend the festive season penniless, since they already received their monthly salary on December 07.

"They must just be patient. They will get their money within a week's time from today," Kapofi told New Era yesterday. New Era has learned that the salary increase was discussed and agreed upon during the last Cabinet session for the year 2012 at State House on Wednesday, when President Hifikepunye Pohamba addressed his ministers.

Government is expected to spend N$1.4 billion on the salary increment and other benefits, which were finalised with unions last month. Agreement on the 8 percent increase was reached following a spate of wildcat strikes by teachers and a few other public service employees, including nurses and other health workers.

The nationwide and sporadic protests that started at the end of October almost crippled the education system leaving thousands of learners to their own devices with little or no teaching taking place anywhere for more than two weeks.

The protest fizzled out only after legal action was taken against suspended National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) secretary general Evilastus Kaaronda, who stood firm alongside the striking teachers with the Interim Khomas Teachers Strategic Committee, which the teachers had formed as an act of defiance and to show their displeasure with their own unions.

The Minister of Education, Dr Abraham Iyambo, and the government brought an urgent application before the Labour Court on November 9, in which they requested the court to declare the strike illegal.

The teachers were restrained from carrying out an unlawful strike or demonstration, as well as squatting or occupying the Government Office Park, and were ordered to vacate the property with immediate effect.

Striking teachers then moved to the Khomasdal Stadium until they finally softened their stance and returned to teaching in November.

Early this month, Kaaronda and members of the Interim Khomas Teachers Strategic Committee - Mahongora Kavihuha, the Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) president Dankie Katjiuanjo, Elfrieda Mwagbo and Josef Katjingisiua - were found in contempt of court in a judgment handed down by Judge Collins Parker in the High Court.

In the meantime, the matter was remanded to January 17, 2013, when Kaaronda, Kavihuha, Katjiuanjo, Mwagbo and Katjingisiua will have an opportunity to testify in mitigation before sentencing.

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