Media Union demands 8% salary increment for NBC employees
By Sakeus Iikela
Secretary General, Namibia Media Professionals Union.
The Namibia Media Professionals Union (NAMPU) is aware of the industrial action on which Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) employees have embarked following failed negotiations with the corporation’s board and management over salary increments.
NAMPU notes that the unresolved labour standoff continues to negatively affect the flow of crucial information to the public. This is a wake-up call to the NBC and various owners and stakeholders in the media – including those who claim to be champions of press freedom but never talk about the welfare of journalists and media workers – to recognise and take cries about poor working conditions and underpayment of journalists seriously or face the music.
For far too long, the arrogant and greedy management of the NBC has ignored the genuine demands of its workers who have been pleading for better working conditions and the settling of outstanding salary increments, the abolition of the contract labour system, and improved benefits among other things. NAMPU notes with concern that the NBC continues to keep a large number of its employees on one-month contracts.
Despite several calls to address these concerns, the out-of-touch NBC management and the captured union which was supposed to be representing interests of NBC staff continue to treat the workers as second-class citizens. The NBC management often hides behind claims of a lack of funds to resolve these issues, but continues to shower itself with millions of Namibia dollars in irregular bonuses. It should be noted that more than N$5 million was paid as bonuses to fewer than eight NBC managers in 2020 while workers got nothing. NAMPU has also learned that the NBC has decided to reward its director general, Stanley Similo, with a vehicle worth about N$2 million while ignoring the workers’ demands.
It is important for the public to understand that the right to belong to a trade union and to engage in a strike is guaranteed by the Namibian Constitution. NAMPU has learned with disgust that the NBC management and board, which is detached from reality, have started employing tactics to violate the strike rules and intimidate striking workers. NAMPU stands with the striking workers and encourages them to stay away from work until the management heeds their demands.
Against this backdrop, NAMPU condemns the silence and arrogant conduct of the NBC management on this crucial matter.
NAMPU therefore calls on the NBC management and the board to:
• implement the 8% salary increment,
• addresses concerns regarding workers’ employment benefits,
• employ all workers now on one-month contracts on a full-time basis,
• adhere to the set strike rules.
The Union calls on the NBC management to address the issues above as soon as possible or face the consequences of mass action. In addition, the minister responsible for information and communication should take note of the desperate situation at the NBC and intervene with the view of resolving the ongoing labour standoff and other related matters, for the benefit of both parties and the NBC’s viewers and listeners.
In that spirit, NAMPU is calling on all journalists and media professionals to stand in solidarity with the striking workers at the NBC. NAMPU further calls on other media employers in the country – who claim to be friends of press freedom – to pressure the NBC management to urgently resolve the ongoing labour dispute.