By Donna Collins
THE Government should not provoke us – as what they are preaching in the media is not the right way to negotiate with the teachers of our country, without coming up with an alternative.”
Basilius Haingura the secretary general of Namibia National Teachers Union (Nantu) spoke candidly to Confidente from a teachers’ voting poll in the Otjozondjupa Region on Tuesday, where he said that he has never experienced negotiations with the Government on this level before – claiming that it was acting in “bad faith”.
Haingura was reacting to the latest announcement by Government, declaring that it will not bow down to the eight percent salary increase demand. Also that teachers opting to strike will lose their salaries for the duration of that period and will not be entitled to back pay, plus Government will not be obliged to award the five percent increase either.
“The Government is threatening the livelihood of the teachers by not negotiating their demands, and we will not be intimidated by their bully tactics,” he added.
The teachers know the implications of the “no work and no pay policy” – yet they are determined to stick to their guns and are continuing to turn up at the voting polls.
“If the teachers vote in favour of the strike, the consequence of us withdrawing our services, will see the teachers, learners and the Government suffering, but we have waited long enough for an outcome and have run out of patience.
“It seems that the Government wants their bread buttered on both sides,” fumed Haingura. “They are withholding an eight percent salary increase which is perfectly in line with the inflation rate, yet they still want teachers to be considerate towards the learners and not disrupt their exams.
“We are aware of what will happen when teachers withdraw their services, but the consequences of a strike should be put on the Government – not the teachers or the union,” he added, saying their fight is to rectify the whole system in the long term.
Haingura said that the national results from the voting polls will be announced on Monday when the outcome will be made clear, and the leadership will inform the way forward. Weighing in on the looming teachers’ strike, Sinvula Sibanga the headmaster of Swakopmund Secondary School which just celebrated its 40th anniversary, said that with Monday being D-day, everyone is holding their breath waiting for the results at the polls. “The majority of teachers are standing by to see what transpires from this point onwards, and to see what NANTU has up its sleeve, since it is clear Government is not being shaken by our demands,” said Sibanga.
“But as an educator I am disappointed that negotiations have reached this point, because the battle is definitely impacting on our learners, in particular the Grade 12s who are about to enter into the exam room, and I feel that both parties should have resolved the negotiations by now. “
Government has meanwhile rejected the demands of an eight percent salary increase stating that under the current wobbly economic climate, there is only room for an increase of five percent backdated to April, with a further seven percent increased promised next year. It claims that the education budget already takes up the bulk of the total national budget.
“The Government calls upon NANTU and the entire teaching fraternity to appreciate the challenges that are posed by their demand of more than five percent which is beyond the ability of the Government to afford at this stage.” It has been estimated that there are about 27 000 teachers working at 1 800 schools countrywide. Statistics released show that if Government agrees to an eight percent increase, it will have to fork out an additional N$600 million.
The teachers voting polls opened in the Erongo Region on Wednesday, with fixed and mobile stations set up throughout all regions, which will see voting coming to an end tomorrow in the Omaheke Region. NANTU is encouraging teachers to continue voting.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015