Labour expert Herbert Jauch says the unions were supposed to come back to inform their members on the new proposal so that they can decide if it was reasonable or not, before putting their signatures on the dotted line.
The Namibia Public Workers Union secretary general Petrus Nevonga announced this afternoon at State House that an agreement was reached together with the sister union Namibia National Teachers Union (NANTU) secretary general Loide Shaanika, including government representative (Cabinet Secretary) George Simataa, sealing the deal.
This however, according to Jauch, was not supposed to be done. “Members entrusted you, and the right thing to do is go back and inform them of the new offer, before signing, and wait to hear their response whether they are in agreement or not. Or they can advise you further,” he stressed.
However, Nevonga told the media before signing the agreement that they have consulted widely about the new government offer.
However, according Jauch, the way things turn out he expects that the signing will only rub salt into the wounds of the more 100 000 hungry and agitated civil servants who took to social media to air their disappointment and disapproval of the deal this afternoon. The issue will be aggravated by the fact that the union bowed to a measly 3% percent salary adjustment dropping from the 9% which was initially bargained, without giving the workers an opportunity to decide.
The workers will be further angered by fact that, just last week, they entrusted and empowered the union, by massively voting for a strike in an effort to force the government into offering something better. 42 216 voted Yes in favour of the strike representing 96 percent, 1232 voted against, a total of 81 853 was
The union initially wanted a 9 percent increase in basic salary, and 10 percent for transport allowance, which was later revised to 7 percent increase on homeowners’ scheme for staff members and 14.5 percent housing benefits for non-management workers, while those in management would be entitled to 12 percent. In addition, 14 percent was proposed for non-managers as a transport benefit. Government at the time had offered 4.5 percent on housing and 10 percent on transport, with a cost implication of N$334 million.
The government increased its offer at the eleventh hour to amount to a total of N$924 million, representing a salary increase of 3%. 11% housing allowance for below management and 14% in transport benefit. To the chagrin of the masses, they have bemoaned the deal, saying they feel cheated, further accusing the unions for selling them out.
“This 3% is way below inflation, imagine someone earning N$3000, this means that the person will only get an increase of N$90 not even above N$100. What difference will this make,” fumed one employee.
Many have since started threatening to withdraw their membership from the two unions, as they feel betrayed.
“The union has totally failed to represent the interests of civil servants. 3% is daylight robbery at least the 5% that was first offered would have been better. Why did the union not consult the civil servants? We are not even sure of the future,” stressed another one. Meanwhile, making the announcement, Nevonga said these were tough negotiations taking into account the poorly performing economy, thus consoling, something small was better than not getting anything. “We looked at this figure [N$924 million from N$334 million with a common view to find a solution to the dispute. We tried to calculate, and we calculated this figure to the last penny, after applying it to the salaries of civil servants.
“We did that in mind that inflation is high, limited resources and the country’s liabilities. We thus considered to do whatever is possible because the mandate of us as leaders of workers is to do it for the benefit of our members,” stressed Nevonga.
Meanwhile NUNW secretary general, Job Muniaro, said the 3% is better than the zero stance which was earlier offered by the government.
“When you go to negotiations it’s a win-win situation, you need to be provocative to get what you need. However, the other party will also strike back to balance,” stressed Muniaro when asked about his opinion whether the outcome was reasonable amid the concerns from the aggrieved employees. “All in all, this is a fair outcome, they even got above 10 percent in benefits, of which housing is one of the important components that is troubling us, thus the 11% and 14% is boosting them. So for you to gain, you need to move from one side also. You can’t come out of the negotiation as a 100% winner, so let’s appreciate and not complain much,” said Muniaro.