SHAMBYU: Non-teaching staff at St Boniface College here are complaining that they are being subjected to unfair working conditions and are threatening to strike if their grievances are not attended to urgently.
The six workers – cooks, cleaners and gardeners – last month handed over a petition to the school’s management listing a number of grievances, including their dissatisfaction with their remuneration and leave days.
The workers also complain that those of them who are accommodated within the school premises are not allowed to have their spouses or children sleep over if they visit.
They stated in the petition, which was made available to this reporter, that their salaries are very low and that they are “not paid accordingly”.
The allegations are that whenever the employees miss work, the payment for the number of hours missed is deducted from their salaries.
They are also unhappy about the fact that whenever they work past normal working hours, the work is allegedly considered to be “voluntary” and no overtime is paid to them.
“When we complain by sending letters to the office, our complaints are not valued,” the disgruntled workers wrote in the petition.
They further complained that the cleaners at the school work throughout the year and are not allowed to take annual leave.
The workers told Nampa the petition is supposed to be handed over to the chairperson of St Boniface’s Board of Governors, Joseph Mukoya.
Approached for comment on Wednesday, Mukoya, however, said he is not aware of the petition, but promised to visit the school.
Meanwhile, a Head of Department (HoD) at the school, Kochikarot Yesudas, rubbished the workers’ complaints during an interview with this reporter on Wednesday, saying the complaints are “invalid”.
He stated that they intend to convene a meeting between the school’s Board of Governors and the workers next Monday.
He said the workers mistakenly believe that the school has a lot of money, but also said St Boniface College is the only Catholic school among five Catholic schools in the Kavango Region which pays its workers high salaries.
The St Boniface College HoD indicated that claims that workers do not get annual leave are also invalid as the school gives its workers about three months’ annual paid leave.
He went on to say that the school has never denied workers’ relatives lodging, but indicated the school is just faced with a lack of accommodation for hostel supervisors.
Yesudas explained that the school does not allow male hostel supervisors to stay in the boys’ hostel with their wives, or female hostel supervisors to stay in the girls’ hostel with their husbands.
St Boniface College, which has been attaining a 100 per cent pass rate in both Grade 10 and 12 examinations for the past five years, has about 10 non-teaching staff, consisting of two hostel supervisors, cooks, gardeners, cleaners and office assistants.
The school has close to 300 learners.