THE teachers' strike of November 2012 has given birth to a new union, the Workers Union of Namibia (WUN), which was launched in Windhoek on Wednesday.
The union is to have its main branch in the Khomas Region. The formation of the union, which will apparently represent public servants, comes at a time when teachers in particular feel that the Namibia National Teachers Union (Nantu) does not have their interests at heart.
While the leadership of the new union is still to be elected, the interim leadership consists of teachers Margareth Waters, Silume Simataa, Mikka Ndadi, Vincynthia Ndjonduezu and Caroline Hans, who were all members of the Khomas Teachers' Interim Committee during last year's strike.
Waters said the establishment of the union was the result of "resentment" that built up to last year's strikes.
"The year 2012 in particular was an expression of dissatisfaction of the workers with the union leaders and government. Teachers, for example, woke to the reality that their union leaders never served their interest. While on strike, the workers tried to engage with their leaders on issues of vital concern, but the leaders blatantly refused such humane demands," she said. Nantu general secretary Basilius Haingura told The Namibian that he could not comment on the formation of the new union, but that Nantu had at all times delivered service to its members.
"They cannot accuse Nantu of non-service delivery," he said.
Petrus Nevonga, the general secretary of the Namibia Public Workers Union, said that any person in the country is free to form and join any union of his or her choice.
"It is allowed to establish unions, as long as such unions have the interests of the workers at heart. The formation of an union should however not be driven by differences of opinions. If you differ with your union today, will you again form another union tomorrow?" he said.
Nevonga added that Nantu and Napwu are strong and well represented unions which always address workers' problems.
"Establishing a new union is no easy task ... and requires a lot of work," he said. "If you are establishing a new union, it should be for a good purpose and not just because you are frustrated. We should learn to agree and to disagree, to find common ground and to move on."
According to Waters, the new union will abolish "investing power in individuals" by establishing workers' committees on different levels, and establish a democratic structure where members will own all processes that concern workers.
"All officials elected to structures of the union shall take the wage of an average skilled worker and workers shall have the right to recall union leaders who act against the interests of the workers," said Waters.
She said the public will be informed in due course as to when workers can join the union. During last year's strike, which saw more than 400 teachers take to the streets, teachers demanded a 40% salary hike, increased transport and housing allowances, as well as a tax-free 13th cheque. The government eventually granted an 8% salary increase to all public servants.