City staff demand millions after HR blunder

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City staff demand millions after HR blunder

The new City of Windhoek leadership will have to quickly deal with an alleged administrative blunder that has been dragging on for over a decade.

The Public Service Union of Namibia (PSUN) has given the city until the end of January to pay about N$10 million to 18 staff members. 

This amount is what the employees claim for the 10 years they have been paid at a lower grade than they were actually appointed. 

On Thursday, National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) councillor Joseph Uapingene was elected as the new mayor of Windhoek. Uapingene was the only candidate remaining in the mayoral election, after other nominated city councillors withdrew from the contest. 

Uapingene said the council must preoccupy itself with service delivery to residents, as opposed to politicking, which has dominated the council for the past two years. “We need each other to succeed,” he said.

Only three councillors were elected as members of the management committee. The councillors are Swapo’s Sam Nujoma, Austin Kwenani and Queen Kamati.

The day after the elections, PSUN secretary general Mathias Haakuria, at a press conference, warned city officials that the union is working on practical actions against it if they do not remunerate emergency staff that launched their matter in 2012.

He said in 2012, firefighters from the staff attached to the emergency and disaster risk management division applied for advertised positions of platoon officers (C3 band) and sub officers (C2 band). 

“They met the job requirements and were appointed. However, to their disappointment, they were placed at a minimum and lower grade of their respective salary grades,” said Haakuria.

After the job review in 2014, it was realised that they are wrongly placed, which resulted in underpayment and this had to be rectified. 

“There are supervisors who are paid less than their subordinates due to these irregularities. They, therefore, suffered remuneration penalisation which is not rectified to date,” he said.

The affected employees have allegedly been fighting to be placed on the correct salary scales in their respective grades since 2012. 

“For the last 10 years, they have been sent from one office to another with no solution. The workers were told to follow policy in raising their complaints despite the fact that the available policy guidelines do not cater for this type of dispute,” the PSUN chief noted.

“The union started to intervene last year and was equally told to follow policy and when we complied with this advice, they decided to ignore the union completely and deliberately as they have a vested interest in seeing the workers suffer endlessly,” Haakuria added.  

“We demand that the City of Windhoek pay these employees their outstanding remuneration as the workers did not only lose out on better salaries but the whole remuneration package that accrued to them had they been placed correctly from the beginning,” he said.

In addition, the unionist argued the growth value of their pension was negatively affected over the years and they will definitely not get the real value of the lost revenue should they one day leave the city’s employment.

Contacted for comment, City of Windhoek spokesperson, Harold Akwenye, confirmed knowledge of the matter and indicated he will obtain substantive details from the head of the relevant department. 

The city already has a bloated wage bill as the 2 535 staff earn N$1.5 billion per year. A N$200 million bank overdraft facility keeps the lights burning at the embattled city.