3 April 2013

Namibia: Unions Bemoan Rush With Salary Changes

TWO of the biggest trade unions in the country have bemoaned the lack of time given to them to discuss the imminent overhaul of civil servant salaries.

The general secretary of the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu), Petrus Nevonga, and his counterpart at the Namibia National Teachers Union (Nantu), Basilius Haingura, said the time they were given to consult their members about the regrading of salaries was not enough.

Nevonga said the 30 days given for appealing was "unrealistic and impractical".

The changes, contained in a document titled 'Reward Management' would be known as the Public Service Pay and Grading structure, and would affect about two thirds of the 93 000 government employees and cost nearly N$2 billion to implement this year.

The salary revamp has attracted criticism from some while others applauded the new system.

Concerned parties were given until 31 March to appeal and scrutinise the recommendations made by a regrading report.

Nevonga told The Namibian yesterday that the public service has about 264 job categories and each category has between four and six functional levels.

According to him, this made it impractical to review the report and appeal within a month.

He said it would "be meaningless" if the appeal was rushed and affected people were not fully informed about the consequences.

"The people were not well informed about the issues and the process of the upgrading," he said.

Nevonga said there is a need to educate civil servants about he report, and 30 days would not be enough to do so.

He said the regrading process has its advantages and disadvantages, and all they want is for the process to be fair to the people it affects.

Unions have been consulting with their members since last month.

Nevonga said the concerns raised by their members are being ironed out by the negotiating team tasked to work on the regrading process.

The pay structure was set up by the Office of the Prime Minister with the help of British consultants Pilat HR Solutions.

Speculation was that the unions had already agreed with the recommendations.

Nevonga declined to comment on such allegations.

Haingura yesterday said they were done with the consultations, adding that they were not happy with the time given for them to consult with members.

Nantu earlier this year lashed out at the government for sidelining the unions from the regrading plans.

Cabinet Secretary Frans Kapofi last week told The Namibian that the government was planning to implement the plan.

He said the government had received appeals from individuals. "Some of them got it wrong as they were not supposed to appeal as individuals but they should have told their authority [union] to tell us," he said.

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