The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation is finding itself in a precarious situation, with a massive budget cut in the current financial year threatening its sustainability.
NBC director general Stanley Similo in an internal memo to staff last Friday said he was worried about how the company will obtain the N$206 million budget shortfall to allow the corporation to function optimally amid threats of strike action by some employees demanding better pay.
He said the corporation 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.
“We are now receiving N$206 million less per annum/year, resulting in a monthly shortfall of N$17.2 million.
There is, therefore, a need to vigorously fight to obtain the necessary N$206 million (which is a shortfall of the overall annual subsidy) through channels of the Board of Directors and through our line ministry in order to sustain the business as is,” he said.
He said failure to convince government to increase the subsidy will naturally have very grave and dire consequences for the national broadcaster.
“The inherent challenge can no longer be about wage increase but rather how do we make sure that we obtain the N$206 million in order to allow the NBC to function optimally and secure everyone’s future,” Similo said.
Similo said NBC’s own projected revenue is estimated at N$5 million on overage per month – and this revenue projection might be affected negatively due to the looming industrial action, since minimal adverts might be aired.
He explained that during the wage negotiations, management, through a board directive, “offered a once-off payment” for all staff, ranging between N$10 000 to N$20 000, depending on how the distribution would have been made once agreed.
However, he said, this position was forced to change when treasury announced that the new budget allocation for NBC would amount to N$127.5 million per year.
Similo has further told NBC workers who are planning to strike that the company will deduct all payments it remunerates towards the workers during the strike period.
Similo said the no-work-no-pay rule will be implemented.
According to him, contributions towards wages, medical aid, pension fund, housing and transport will be affected.
Workers of the national broadcaster are pushing for a salary increment, but management is of the view the company does not have the money to increase salaries.
“It should be noted that in terms of the envisaged strike rules the rights of non-striking employees shall be reserved and protected,” Similo said.
When contacted for an update yesterday over the looming strike, Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) general secretary Petrus Nevonga said he was in a meeting and unable to talk.
NBC board chairperson Lazarus Jacobs said a media statement would be issued on the way forward.