We played with the numbers-Nantu

Obrein Simasiku

The vice president of the Namibia National Teachers Union (Nantu) says the increase of the civil servants’ basic salaries and improvement in the housing and transport benefits do not translate into an across the board hike, but a staggered one which the lowest paid such as cleaners benefitted more.

Thomas Niilonga described the salary negotiations as very difficult, especially when it comes to the greater benefit of the lowest paid civil servants, saying the government was steadfast on its zero increase on the basic salary and when it increased its offer to N$924 million, the amount could only accommodate a 4 percent increase on basic salary without any benefits. “It was at this moment where we thought otherwise to juggle the number, because on 4%, for instance, a cleaner would get N$126, which was very little, thus we had to find a way to spread the basic salary increment. Hence, first thought of removing 0.5% from 4% to alienate it to benefits, but it was still little. This we then moved to take 1%, which then translated to N$924 million. Then the remainder to be allocated for the 3% basic salary” “With the N$924 million, that is where we got to make up the housing benefit of 11% and 14%, so that it can favour the lowest paid which is Grade 15. Now a cleaner gets N$280 additional monthly income as opposed to before a 4% basic salary was accepted which would give N$126,” explained Niilonga.

For a Grade 15 basic in monetary terms came to N$95.03, while housing and transport was N$95.92 and N$896 respectively. “Now you can see that, in total the lower grade accumulated an increment of 6% as compared to those in Grade 9 who got 3.8%, Grade 8 3.7% and Grade 5 3.3%,” said Niilonga, while urging the civil servants to show appreciation.

“Government was stuck on a zero basic salary when they offered N$334 million for benefits, however as we deliberated on they increased the amount, meaning now it was only for basic salaries, so we had to play smart at that point,” The increment was agreed to after the civil servants overwhelmingly voted for a strike after the government and the bargaining unions NANTU and Namibia Public Workers Union (NAPWU) reached a deadlock. Government countered to avoid a catastrophe and improved its offer shortly after the national strike could be announced, as only striking rules were being negotiated to set the ground rules.

By Observer