Napwu accuses NBC of contempt

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Napwu accuses NBC of contempt

The Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) is accusing national broadcaster, NBC, of violating a court order that restricts it from taking further decisions in relation to the employees’ leave days and notch salary increases. 

In a matter before the Windhoek High Court, Napwu secretary general Petrus Nevonga said NBC has not paid staff notch increases since 1 April 2021 and has asked employees to reduce their accumulated annual leave days.

Nevonga said all this is in violation of the labour court’s order of 3 December 2021.

According to him, in a circular on 11 October 2021, NBC staff were informed that the company has revised the leave days payout from 90 days to 45 days – and that notch increases will be discontinued as of 1 April 2021.

Aggrieved, the union took the matter to the Labour Commissioner in November 2021.

This was later followed by an urgent application in the labour court, seeking an interdict against NBC from implementing its decisions as communicated to the staff on 11 October 2021. 

The labour court granted the interdict, stating that NBC may not implement its decisions and further take any unilateral decisions when it comes to staff leave days and salary notch increases. 

This order, according to the court, shall stand until the parties resolve the matter, which was before the conciliator where the hearing was due to take place on 25 January 2022.

However, despite the interdict, Nevonga said NBC went ahead and abolished the salary notch increases.  

The union wrote a letter, seeking answers and demanding that NBC adheres to the court order. However, NBC denied any wrongdoing.

The conciliation meeting on 25 January 2022 allegedly did not yield any results. “At all material times, from the date of the court order of 3 December 2021 to the date, we addressed the said letter, dated 12 March 2022 to the Labour Commissioner. The first respondent remained in deliberate contempt of the court order,” said Nevonga.

This, he said, is evident from the company’s action, citing that while they were waiting for the second conciliation hearing on 24 February, its human resources personnel contacted some of the employees, requesting that they put in leave to reduce their leave days to an excess of 45 days.

He said, on top of that, NBC has failed to pay notch salary increases since April 2021.

The union now wants the court to compel NBC to comply with the court order of 3 December 2021 and process all notch salary increase payments, backdated to 3 December 2021.

In court documents, NBC director general Stanley Similo said there is no breach of the court order.

“The demand for the reinstatement of salary notch increases for 2021 came out of the blue and was made with no particular context,” said Similo. He said the union failed to point out an instance where the broadcaster breached the court order. 

On the leave days, Similo said they have not taken steps to compel the employees to take leave to reduce their leave balances. 

He said there is no evidence NBC has informed employees they will not receive their 90-day leave payout at the termination of employment. 

“As the matter stands now, the issue of the 90-day leave has been settled between the parties. Napwu will confirm this. No live controversy exists in this regard. To conclude, the current meritless application enjoys no prospect of success,” said Similo.

On Monday, judge Herman Oosthuizen postponed the matter to 22 November for the hearing. 

All parties were ordered to file their papers no later than 17 November.