Omuthiya — The Namibia National Teacher's Union (Nantu) is conducting a nationwide consultation with teachers regarding the payment of recruitment and retention incentives due to qualified teachers who have not been paid by the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture since 2015.
The consultation comes amid the High Court's judgement in a case between Nantu and the government that was handed down by Deputy Judge President Hosea Angula in February, instructing the government to pay teachers with 20 percent interest as per the 2009 agreement.
The incentives to be paid to qualified teachers were to encourage recruitment and retention of qualified teachers in remote areas. Unqualified teachers including other educators and public service members did not qualify for payment of incentives.
The incentive was to be paid in three categories - A: N$1,750; B: N$1,150 and C: N$750.
Government plans to appeal the judgement in the Supreme Court, although it has however made an offer to pay a lump sum for only one financial year, citing financial constraints.
This is according to the secretary general of Nantu, Basilius Haingura, who is seeking to hear the teachers' views on whether they agree to settle for the offer or to battle it out again in court.
"This is the offer we have on the table, so we would like to hear from you what you think should be agreed on. I am thus informing you that the education ministry plans to appeal the judgement, hence I would like to warn you that this is a long battle with prospects of a victory or loss. So, in case it goes to court and the outcome is in the ministry's favour, it means we lose all. You should also be aware of the financial implications of going to court," stressed Haingura when addressing some teachers in Oshikoto Region, at a meeting held at Ekulo last Thursday.
Nantu's victory comes after the arbitrator appointed by the labour commissioner dismissed the case against the government for failing to honour the 2009 agreement for recruitment and retention incentives. Government had argued that the 2009 agreement was replaced by the 2012 collective agreement for remote allowances.
The remoteness and hardship allowance is paid to any staff member stationed at a duty station in an area specified as remote in recognition of the hardship he or she endures as a result of the limited availability of basic services, amenities and infrastructure.
However, in his judgement, Judge Angula had ruled the 2009 agreement was not amended or replaced by the 2012 agreement and nowhere did the 2012 agreement purport to replace or amend the terms and incentives accorded to the qualified teachers by the 2009 agreement. Furthermore, he said there was no reference to the 2009 agreement.
"Having arrived at the conclusion that the government is obliged to pay the qualified teachers their incentives in terms of the 2009 agreement, such incentives are to be calculated retrospectively from 1 April 2015 to the date of judgement. In the absence of a clause in the 2012 agreement purporting to amend or replace the 2009 agreement, there is no basis for contending that the 2009 agreement was amended or replaced by the 2012 agreement. As a result the qualified teachers' incentives did not lapse ... nor were they incorporated or harmonised into the 2012 agreement. The court therefore found for the appellant that the qualified teachers' incentives were still valid and due to such teachers," ordered the judge.
He had further noted: "By this agreement the parties agreed that the government would pay the outstanding incentives for the period 1 April 2009 to 31 June 2010 by October 2010. That the incentives for the remaining nine months, that is July 2010 to March 2011 were to be paid on or before 20 June 2011; and that after that the incentives would be incorporated in the ministry's budget for 2011/2012 and be paid on a monthly basis."