Striking for a permanent solution – NANTU
In response to the statement made by the Minister of Education, Art and Culture, Hon. Katrina Hanse-Himarwa’s last week in which she said that striking will result in a “no work no pay policy” the Secretary General of the Namibia National Teachers Union, Mr Basilius Haingura said that teachers have no other alternative as striking is deemed as temporary suffering for a permanent solution.
Speaking to the Economist Haingura said “people understand if you don’t work, you don’t get paid”. Haingura shared that the regional results of the voting process which include all teachers, heads of department, school principals and inspectors of education will be out next week on 16 September while the national results of the strike will be released on 19 October.”. The Secretary General further explained that although government can enforce measures such as a “no work, no pay policy.” the strike is under protected action and thus teachers can not be penalized for entities such as misconduct and will not face dismissal from the work place.
In her statement made on the looming strike action of teachers, Hanse-Himarwa stated that in the meantime industrial action taken by teachers will serve only to hinder learners, without reaching their desired outcome. “The biggest losers will be our learners and ourselves. The Government will fulfill the agreement of paying 5% to educators during this financial year (2016/17) and 7% during next financial year (2017/18).” she stated.
Hanse-Himarwa also said that the government and the ministry under her watch is indeed sympathetic and considerate of the hardships faced by some employees in general and teachers in particular hence “our conscious efforts and commitment to improve the livelihoods of all Namibians in order to propel them into prosperity. It must be appreciated that those (the needs of teachers) are competing with equally critical needs at other sectors of Government.” she stressed.
The minister stated that employees who opt to strike will lose their income during the period that they are striking, which will also directly affect other fringe benefits. “As stated in the Labour Act No.11 of 2007, Sector 76 (1). “By taking part in a strike or a lockout in compliance with this Chapter, a person does not commit a delict or a breach of contract, but an employer is not obliged to remunerate an employee for services that the employee does not render during a strike or lockout in compliance with this Chapter.” she emphasised.
Furthermore it was explained that currently the education budget takes up the bulk of the total national budget of which 73 % has gone to the wage bill, meaning salaries of staff. The minister articulated that the government is being unfairly accused of being indifferent to the plight of the teachers as research shows that in comparison to bigger economies such as South Africa and Botswana with inflation rates at 6.54% and 7.58% respectively, Namibia, with its current inflation rate of 7%, still surpasses these countries in terms of teacher salaries.