The Namibian (Windhoek)

Namibia: Teachers to Discuss Way Forward

UNCERTAINTY still remains whether some teachers who took part in a two-week long strike last year over conditions of service will return to work when schools re-open this year.

It is also not yet clear if there will be another strike to demand a further increase in teachers' salaries from the eight percent settled on for all public servants last year.

This comes after the Public Office Bearers' Remuneration and Benefits Commission late last year motivated a 31 percent salary increase for politicians - a move that was rejected by the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) and the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW).

The teachers had initially demanded a 40 percent salary increment amongst other improved conditions of service.

"It is unfair to give a 31 percent salary increase to politicians and only give eight percent to the rest of the civil servants. This is one of the things that might keep teachers away from school because it is an insult and we are protesting against it. It is totally unfair. We are busy mobilising ourselves and getting back in touch to decide on the way forward," said Mika Ndadi, one of the members of the Teachers Strategic Committee which headed the teachers' strike.

Ndadi said the committee had written a letter to President Hifikepunye Pohamba requesting him to to pronounce himself on the wide gap between the eight percent increase for civil servants and the 31 percent increase for politicians.

The SPYL last year also appealed to Pohamba to reject the 31 percent increase for politicians, referring to it as "flamboyant".

"Should there be a need for a salary increase for top office bearers, then it must be set at the same eight percent given to civil servants after a protracted bargaining," the SPYL said at the time.

"We still have not heard from the President. Nevertheless, we will regroup this week and decide on the way forward. The general feeling is that teachers are not going back to school, especially because the President has not pronounced himself on the matter yet," said Ndadi.

Teachers all over the country took part in the strike over wages after what they alleged was a relaxed attitude from the leaders of the Namibia National Teachers' Union (Nantu) in negotiating for better working conditions on their behalf.

Negotiations were concluded between Government and the bargaining unions, namely the Namibia National Teachers' Union (Nantu) and Namibia Public Workers Union, (Napwu) which resulted in the eight percent salary increase.

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