ALLOW me to express my views on the on-going, teachers’ increase dispute.
A strike action is known as ‘a walkout, a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to perform work’. Teachers in Namibia have voted (95%) to take a strike action. That is after the protracted negotiation that left the employer unmoved. Let no one try to manipulate or divert the focal point of the voted-for, teachers’ strike. The main issue is/has never been a strike but 8% increase. A strike is not absolute but a coercive weapon if Government fails to honour its obligation: pay 8% to teachers. The talk of a strike must not overshadow what is at stake. No teacher who voted for a strike needs the strike painfully. It was meant to break a deadlock. A vote was meant to find out who has the majority support-5% (Government) or 8% (teachers)? We have now passed that hurdle and we know the decisive and re-sounding result. A strike is an alternative tool to hold Government accountable and responsible in case it will abandon the outcome. And it has done so! Or when is Government going to publicly pronounce itself on the 8% vote? That avoidance silence tells a lot. How will it set the rules of a strike when it has not said a word on the results?
Government is likely to be held responsible for any strike and its consequence. Government’s failure to publicly accept the elections results means it took part in election in bad faith. A principle of ‘Volenti non fit injuriam’ applies here. Is it a good lesson for citizens and competing, political parties on how to handle the national elections? Yes, if the results do not favour you, do not accept them!
The Government’s attempt to ignore the results makes the strike a ‘constructive’ one, just like a ‘constructive dismissal’. That means it is forced upon teachers by the very employer as there was no other option for them. And that will mean it will be very difficult to effect a ‘No work, no pay’. The court will have to convince teachers that after an agreed elections and outcome, what other options were there to avoid striking. All ‘internal remedies’ were exhausted. Re-negotiation! What re-negotiation? Re-negotiation was possible between the issuance of an ‘unresolved dispute’ certificate and the preparation for teachers’ elections (vote). Also, Government’s delay or stoppage of salaries of 20 000 means no taxed income will come into the State coffers which is around N$60 000 000 on average per month. The S &T allowance will also be delayed. The setting of rules is administrative matters. It only caters for how the strike should be conducted. What to be done in relation to State properties, the pro-5% (those who want to work) and, possibly, how to protect the ‘special activities’, like setting, invigilating and marking of examinations. Technically, the Government is in a ‘catch-22’ situation. It is not only teachers to get 8% even if it clandestinely wants to get out of the crisis. It also means increment adjustment. Not only will those who are in the category of teachers, who are NAPWU, demand their fair share. The 3% more! Even those who were at lower or higher categories will want to move up the ladder. That means those who got 5% will demand 3% and those who got two or three will have to get 3% more in order to be on par with their colleagues. Private schools will not buy into Government’s trouble. They will have to write examinations, irrespective of a strike. Tenderers who deliver materials to schools cannot afford delays in delivery and payment for services rendered.
Shitefa sha Mvula
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015