Looming strike threatens tourism industry
Namibia Wildlife Resort (NWR) received a notice through the Namibian Public Workers Union(NAPWU) declaring that their employees will take part in a strike as of Friday 3 June ,due to unresolved wage demands.
The unresolved demands include wage and salary increment for up to 15% and housing allowance starting from 45 to 50% as well as the introduction of bush allowance are stated as the main request of the of the employees.
According to Zelna Hengari,Managing Director of NWR, they have over 1000 employees on its payroll making it the largest employer in the Tourism Sector. “In fact these numbers of employees are already surplus to requirement because the company only really needs 600 for its current operations,” Hengari added.
Hengari said,during the Ministerial Intervention of 2005, a deal was struck with the Union providing for 4 off-days/month additional to all other leave benefits in lieu of a salary increase as the company did not have money then. This is the cause of this employee inflation which now cost the company an additional N$6.9 million per annum on its wage bill.
“At great cost to the company, this benefit remains but the staff have been enjoying salary increases since then,” she added.
The parties’ assembled for negotiations on 18 February 2016 and the company indicated at the meeting that due to financial difficulties the demand of the Union could not be met.
Thereafter the Union approached the Office of the Labour Commissioner on 13 April 2016 for a peaceful meeting at which an agreement was reached that the Union grant management a time lag to properly brief and obtain mandate from the new Board of Directors that were appointed in March 2016.
On 19 May the mandate declared an inflationary increase of not more than 5% of total basic salaries on condition that the four days per month off benefit is withdrawn in order to align with industry practice and contain the undue wage cost.
The negotiations between the parties were re-convened on 31 May 2016 at which management offered the inflationary increase in addition to providing a detailed and transparent presentation on the Financial State of the Company. The company also sought the removal of the onerous 4 days off per month.
Again the Union rejected the company proposal and served the company with a Notice for a Strike. The reasoning from the Unions position is that , NWR is a parastatal and if the company does not have the funds, the Shareholders must provide the funds.
However the Management’s argument is that an inflationary increase is, under the current circumstances and given an already competitive remuneration structure, its fair and should form the basis for a settlement.
Meanwhile, NWR assured stakeholders and clients that during the planned strike – NWR is still open for business and the safety and well-being of their guests is their paramount concern.
“We shall be pulling out all stops to offer you a hospitable service and welcome,”said Hengari.