Namibia: Nantu Accuses Unam of Breaching Strike Rules

2 November 2018

Management at the University of Namibia (Unam) has been accused of violating the rules of engagement in the current strike involving thousands of its staff by allowing scab labour since the strike that enters its fifth day today started on Monday.

Basilius Haingura, the secretary-general of Namibia National Teachers' Union (Nantu) at a media briefing held yesterday accused Unam for using scab labour which by definition is to enlist the services of students, some of its workers and hiring outsiders.

Striking Unam workers with the support of Nantu and the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) yesterday marched in front of the university's main campus entrance in Windhoek to express their dismay over the use of scab labour by Unam.

Thousands of university staff at 12 of its campuses has embarked on a nationwide strike demanding a six percent salary increase backdated to January. This nearly crippled its operations and it almost derailed the current examinations of Unam students.

Haingura raised concern that some of the employed staff members who are currently studying at Unam have now been given access to the safe of the exams, which is contrary to the examination rules and creates room for the exams to be compromised.

He is worried there are striking employees who are supposed to invigilate this week and they are on strike. "Who is invigilating in their place?" he asked rhetorically.

Further, he asked under which conditions "those now invigilating are they doing it because they are required to perform their own daily duties which they are employed to do and be paid for".

In fact, Haingura said the unions are in possession of the new invigilating timetable which he says does not correspond to the old one. "If they are not acting contrary to the rules, why are they denying us access to carry out inspections from time to time?" he questioned. He cautioned management not to interpret the rules to suit them.

More so, he stressed the unions has already raised these issues though management on the other hand has dismissed their concerns.

"How do we determine the compliance with the striking rules if the unions are denied access to premises of the employer from time to time to ensure the striking rules as well as the Labour Act are adhered to?" he asked. He encouraged striking members to stand united in fighting for their rights, saying, "We will not leave this unchallenged."

Meanwhile, Unam sociology lecturer Ndeshy Namupala who is also a member of the striking staff took to the podium to interrogate who is going to mark the exam papers that are being invigilated by hired individuals.

"If they consider illegal invigilating of exams, who is going to mark them?" She asked. Adding that, "if Unam does not respond to our demands, me as a lecturer cannot mark that exam, we will sit here until our demands are met."

Job Muniaro, NUNW secretary general said, "These are consequences of not listening to each other." he noted.

The striking Unam staff have said even if Unam close for the December holiday, they will continue with the strike again when the institution re-opens in January and that it is better the issue is addressed now rather than deferring a problem that could impact on the new academic year.

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