Schools shut for strike ballot…voting over two days

Tujoromajo Kasuto and O’Brien Simasiku

The Ministry of Education Arts and Culture has closed schools for tomorrow and Friday to allow civil servants to take part in a vote to decide on whether to strike after the government, NAPWU and NANTU, reached a deadlock in wage negotiations.

The government states that it has no fiscal space to manoeuvre to increase cash salaries, while unions demand raises in line with skyrocketing costs of living.

The transparent balloting process is set to begin tomorrow, July 28th, and will last until July 29th, 2022, at 150 polling stations across the country in places such as local constituency offices, hospitals, military bases, and 98 mobile teams.

The Ministry of Arts and Culture has instructed Regional Directors through the respective Inspectors of education, school principals, heads of department, teachers and school board members to oversee the release of teachers and unionised staff members to be afforded the opportunity to cast their ballots.

This comes after the government’s decision to not give a 10% pay raise across the board and an improvement in other benefits.

Despite the impasse, the government has agreed to raise allowances such as housing and transport, which it estimates will cost an additional N$334 917 365.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, Utoni Nujoma yesterday warned civil servants against the planned strike and highlighted that the employees in terms of the law have the right to go on strike, however the employer is under no obligation to remunerate any of the employees that partake in the industrial action.

“It is important to allow our economy to go back to its growth trajectory, because once growth is realized, it also provides needed revenue to address our national budget needs. Undertaking strike actions when there is no avenue to raise funds is not a viable option. The public servants are urged to consider the situation of all affected Namibians.

Without being pre-emptive of the outcomes of the ballot exercise scheduled for the 28th – 29th July 2022, we wish to point out that there are consequences for the Government, the public servants and the country at large,” the minister noted.

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