At a time where many sectors of the economy have adversely been affected by Covid-19, unions representing the majority of civil servants in Namibia have announced there will be no salary increment for public sector employees this year due to the global pandemic.
"As bargaining unions for public servants, in the process of our bargaining, we found ourselves in a critical situation of the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, which caused a threat to the economies of countries of the world, including Namibia. Unfortunately, Covid-19 pandemic further culminated into undue pressure on our country's economy, employment and job security," the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) and the Namibia National Teachers Union (Nantu) said in a joint statement last week.
Therefore, the unions noted this pressure on the economy has caused challenges to the efforts of Napwu and Nantu in executing their mandates to the expectations of their members in the public service as far as bargaining for members' salaries and other benefits are concerned.
Given these sad realities, the unions informed their members in the civil service that due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, the salary increment for the financial year 2020/21 has become impossible, as the government was forced to divert most of budgetary provisions, including those meant for salary increment.
"Diversion of savings will be used to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on our country's economy through financial support to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), qualifying employers who undertook not to retrench their employees as well as to qualified unemployed citizens and retrenched employees," the unions announced.
These stimulus packages are aimed to help the hardest-hit sectors of the economy, including the procurement of health facilities and equipment, the employment of health professionals, as a well as the employment of additional teachers to enable the implementation of social distancing at schools and provision of water and sanitation for schools
The unions said the government, as the employer of civil servants, has undertaken to ensure employees' job security during their mutual engagements.
"Napwu and Nantu, as public sector unions, remain committed to mitigating measures which will safeguard our members' job security and betterment of their livelihood and conditions of employment as the situation improves," the unions assured unionised workers.
Government recognises the two unions as exclusive bargaining agents for government employees, which bargaining include negotiations on salaries and other benefits.
The unions' negotiation with government is based on the three years rolling budget. Under the current rolling budget, the negotiations are for the 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21 years.
Both unions agreed that due to the economic realities, coupled with severe drought in the country, amongst other challenges, the parties reached a painful consensus to forgo the salary increments during the first two rolling financial years 92018/19 and 2019/20).
However, the unions jointly said a consensus was reached between the parties to award an inflation-linked salary increment for the financial year 2020/21, as a settlement of the dispute which was declared with the Office of the Labour Commissioner for which budgetary provision was made pending the conclusion and signing of the memorandum of agreement as tradition.