25 September 2018

Namibia: NamWater Staff Threatens to Cut Off Taps Countrywide

NamWater employees are threatening to go on strike and close off taps countrywide after management and Board of Directors failed to respond to their petition regarding what they workers said is the water utility's failure to adhere to human resources policies and delayed salaries.

The employees held a peaceful demonstration with NAPWU on 31 August whereby they submitted their petition and gave management and board of directors 14 working days to revert to them with Thursday last week being the last day to give them feedback on their demands.

Employees through workers union representative Committee (Wurcom) submitted a petition to the company board of directors and CEO Dr Vaino Shivute, highlighting several grievances regarding un-procedural appointments, delayed salary negotiations and non-adherence to human resources policies amongst many others.

Wurcom chairperson Uripeke Trevor Kaaronda said workers could go on strike in due course but the union will try to advise them not to down tools and hence they have called on the minister to intervene in the matter.

According to Kaaronda, after submitting their petition, a meeting took place on September 10 with the board of directors and NamWater management where issues in the petition were discussed. He stated the board requested the union to be specific on points which they raised in the petition.

Regarding their grievances, Kaaronda said the company embarked on the restructuring process whereby NAPWU wrote a letter to the line minister not to go ahead with the approval of the proposed structure because employees and their representative union were not fully consulted.

He said the former minister wrote to NamWater management to put the whole exercise on hold and for employees and NAPWU office to be consulted and give their inputs first.

But Kaaronda asked why is the company advertising positions based on the new grades and structure that has not been approved by the relevant ministries.

"Based on the above what is the cost implication of the new structure for the company in the long run and what are the cost implication of water tariffs for the country in the future," he stated.

Among issues raised are salary negotiations, Kaaronda said the board is offering employees 6.1 percent which is lower than the 7.63 percent they are demanding. Initially, employees wanted 8 percent.

Employees got salary increment last October, but Kaaronda said they were supposed to get an increase in April 1 but were subjected to delay tactics, which is similar to what is happening this year.

Kaaronda said the economy is different each year and each year has its own challenges. "Inflation rate differs from year to year and the living standards of each year changes from year to year."

Board of Director Thaddeus Maswahu referred this reporter to the CEO but numerous calls to the CEO remained unanswered yesterday.

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