WINDHOEK: 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.
Kaapanda, who was speaking on behalf of the Namibian Government at a media conference in the capital on Tuesday, said Government, “in no uncertain terms, condemns the irresponsible and illegal strike actions by some teachers” and urge the teachers to have the future of Namibian learners at heart.
He noted that the continuation of the current illegal strike will leave Government with no alternative but to take decisive action as provided for in the Labour Act, saying the illegal strikes “have no protection” under the law.
“The government, as a responsible employer, reserves the right to discipline employees in line with the provisions of the labour laws,” he stated.
Here Kaapanda mentioned that teachers might not have to be paid for the days they were not at work, as the labour legislation makes provision for the “no work, no pay” principle.
He further made it clear that Government is currently engaged in ongoing negotiations with a view to improving salaries and service benefits for civil servants.
The Information Minister said these negotiations will be concluded during November this year and appealed to all public servants to exercise patience to allow the current negotiations to reach a logical conclusion.
Kaapanda said Government is not only responsible for the wellbeing of civil servants, but for all Namibians.
“As a result, the government will strive to ensure high and sustained economic growth, employment creation and increased income equality for Namibians,” he stated, adding that the available scarce resources should be equitably distributed in order to ensure balanced socio-economic development.
He also explained that Government has recognition agreements with the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) representing public service staff members on the unified grading structure, and with the Namibia National Teachers’ Union (Nantu) representing staff members on the teaching grading structure.
These two unions, he stressed, are the exclusive bargaining agents in the public service, explaining that Government, as an employer, is bound by the current agreements to consult and negotiate with these unions on matters of conditions of employment, remuneration and service benefits.
“Government cannot enter into parallel consultations and negotiations with unions that are not part of the said agreements,” he added.
The MICT Minister further explained that within a period of three years, 2009/10, 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 the government has agreed to significant salary improvement for civil servants, which were all above inflation.
He noted that during the same period, Government also improved transport allowances, housing allowances and the homeowners’ scheme for staff members.
The maximum qualifying amount for the homeowners’ scheme was increased from N.dollars 300 000 to N.dollars 450 000, he added.