WALVIS BAY: Demands by Government that striking teachers return to school seemingly had little effect at the coast as a sizeable number of teachers held demonstrations at Walvis Bay and Swakopmund on Wednesday.
Approximately 300 teachers – around 200 in Walvis Bay and 100 in Swakopmund – marched through the streets in their respective towns to show their support of teachers in the Khomas Region who are demanding that salary negotiations which commenced last October be concluded.
They had also intended to hand over petitions listing their demands, but were informed that it would not be received by either the Ministry of Education (MoE) or the Namibia National Teachers’ Union (Nantu) here.
A Swakopmund teacher who asked to remain anonymous told Nampa that the teachers were threatened with being arrested if they showed up at the regional education office with a petition.
Both the Nantu and regional education offices had apparently also been instructed to not accept any petitions.
Despite this setback, the Swakopmund teachers remained adamant, and went ahead with their march to the Nantu office and attempted to hand over their petition.
Director of Education for the Erongo Region, John Awaseb explained in a telephonic interview that the demonstrations were not sanctioned by the MoE, adding that all similar strikes which have been occurring in other regions were illegal, hence the ministry’s reluctance to receive the petitions.
“The teachers did not seek permission from my office and we were not informed of the demonstration. It is illegal,” he stated.
Executive organiser of Nantu’s Walvis Bay branch, David Gaweseb read out the petition drawn up by the Walvis Bay teachers here on Wednesday.
“There are many questions which are not answered by both the representatives of the union and representatives from Government. Therefore, we the teachers of the Walvis Bay circuit is calling upon the negotiation teams to pronounce themselves on this matter by Thursday, rather than torturing us emotionally by withholding information from teachers or even having the audacity not to shed light on the progress made in this regard,” the teachers wrote.
Like their counterparts in the Khomas Region, the coastal teachers are demanding that negotiations on salaries, housing allowances, medical aid contributions and transport allowances be treated with the urgency it deserves.
Minister of Information and Communication Technology (MICT), Joel Kaapanda on Tuesday ordered striking teachers to return to their classrooms without delay to avoid Government taking action against them.
This news agency spoke to a Walvis Bay teacher, who said all the teachers were ordered to report back to their schools or their absence would be reported to the regional education office.
Awaseb however said it is normal procedure for the names of absent teachers to be reported to the office as the MoE has to be informed of their absence.
He called on all teachers to return to school.