Namibia: Transnamib Workers to Vote On Strike

2 August 2022

TransNamib workers will take to the polls to decide whether they will strike after failed salary negations.

The company and the bargaining union, the Namibia Transport and Allied Workers Union (Natau) reached an out-of-court settlement on 27 July, which stipulates the workers will cast their votes on 12 August.

The national rail service operator took Natau to the labour court after the union resorted to conducting an industrial action in the form of a strike. The strike was scheduled to take place on 18 July. TransNamib claimed the union took the decision to strike without having fully complied with the strike rules issued by the conciliator on 7 July - citing the strike could have been illegal.

The court granted TransNamib a temporary interdict restraining Natau from proceeding with the strike as planned. The court issued the order before it could hear the merits of TransNamib's application.

However, on 27 July, the parties reached a settlement agreement that stipulates that the workers will first take a vote on the strike. They agreed despite Natau calling off the strike, it does not nullify the certificate of unresolved dispute issued by the conciliator on 24 September 2021.

The parties also agreed that should the majority of the employees vote in favour of the industrial action, Natau shall inform TransNamib of the results within 48 hours. Failure of the union to do so will result in the process being void and voting should start afresh. Among other conditions, TransNamib will send an observer to each voting centre to witness the voting process.

Last year, TransNamib indicated the company is in no position to give salary increments. Recently, the company's CEO Jonny Smith said Covid-19 affected TransNamib's finances.

He said the company has been operating at a loss of N$15 million to N$20 million monthly. In addition, thereto, the State's subsidies have been reduced drastically.

New Era reported TransNamib's integrated annual report for 2019/20 stated the company remained in a challenging financial position despite an improvement in its business operations.

The two main challenges remain its short-term cash flow position as well as limited capacity with respect to the number of locomotives serving its operations.

Furthermore, for the 2019/20 financial year, TransNamib's revenue increased by N$20 million to N$542 million, whilst operating costs increased by N$72 million to N$885 million.

"Due to this, a loss of N$262 million was incurred during the period. Cash lost from operations was N$74 million. These trading results resulted in the company being in a worse position, compared to the previous financial period," reads the report.

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