The struggling national broadcaster, Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) employees’ strike continues with the majority of employees still on strike, while a sizeable number returned to work late last week, restoring some radio services.
Primarily, the NBC strike, the longest in the corporation’s history, started with 67 non-striking employees but by yesterday the number stood at 181, NBC chief commercial officer, Umbi Karuaihe-Upi confirmed. Similarly, by yesterday, four radio stations, including National FM, Tirelo Ya Sechaba, Omurari FM and !Ha Radio were on live while the TV news bulletin “has revamped up to 90% of its capacity” according to the corporation.
NBC board chairperson Lazarus Jacobs on Friday urged the remaining striking employees to return to work, saying the corporation’s main focus at this stage was to secure jobs as opposed to salary increases.
“We are still adamant that the strike should end, and this can only happen if all parties come together to find a workable solution. It is still the board’s position that there won’t be any winners with this strike,” Jacobs said in a statement.
“We appreciate and value our employees and if all things were normal, we would have done all in our powers to find a mid-way. Our resolve remains at this stage to find funds that will ensure the NBC can function as a going concern,” he added.
Meanwhile, the strike which is premised on the principle of “no work, no pay”, has seen the majority of workers receiving less than 10% of their salaries over the weekend.
Some workers who spoke to New Era anonymously yesterday said they received salaries over the weekend ranging from N$250 – N$850 and blaming the union leaders for the lost income.
“Union leaders have double-crossed us, we were misadvised but that’s life. We will have to go back to work now,” said one of the striking employees who said he would have to notify HR to resume work soon.
According to workers, the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) advised them to go back to work as NBC might consider enforcing 50% of the “no work, no pay” rule and that the contract workers may be employed permanently but without benefits. These workers will receive benefits once the corporation can afford it.
Pandemonium reigned Friday when striking workers started receiving salary payment text notifications, with some workers shedding tears.
Based on the “no work, no pay” rule, striking employees are not only deprived of their salaries but all other benefits to which NBC contributes financially, such as medical aid and pension plans. NBC workers are demanding an 8% salary increment but the corporation has repeatedly said it is facing serious financial challenges this year due to the budget allocation of N$127.5 million, which represents a 62% reduction, compared to the previous financial year’s allocation of N$334.1 million.
A meeting between striking workers and Swapo affiliated Napwu leadership ended in chaos on Friday, as the workers accused general secretary Petrus Nevonga of not working in their interest.
Staff members claim Nevonga was only interested in next year’s Swapo congress and didn’t want to upset his chances of a seat in parliament. Several attempts to get a comment from Nevonga proved futile.
NBC striking employees met on Saturday without the union but less than 40 turned up.