WALVIS BAY – Walvis Bay municipality employees have vowed to fight tooth and nail a proposal by a local authority councillor seeking the council’s blessings to implement a 20% salary cut across the board. The wage cut also affects councillors.
On Tuesday this week, councillor Ronald Bramwell surprised all and sundry when he tabled a motion during a monthly council meeting where he suggested that municipal employees take a huge pay cut to help contain the ballooning wage bill at the municipality, with effect from 1 November 2021 until 30 June next year. The councillor also argued a pay cut will be a way of showing solidarity with residents forced to tighten their belts during the prevailed economic challenges.
Bramwell explained at least 57% of the council’s capital budget goes to salaries and other employee-related expenses. He argued the finance ministry has flagged this as too high when they submitted their budget for approval earlier this year. “We collectively, as councillors, attempted to
modify the proposed operational budget for the 2020/2021 financial year but with limited success, as we inherited a bloated administration that residents can no longer afford,” said the councillor who was voted under the banner of the Joint Walvis Bay Residents Association.
“We are, therefore, just as much to blame as the administration for presenting a flawed version of our operational budget to the finance ministry as it came back with 15 recommendations.” He added the first recommendation was that employees’ remuneration was too high and should be brought back into line to make out a maximum of 42% of the total operational budget. “To put this into perspective, the total operational budget is N$600 268 567, of which N$304 587 150 is for employee-related costs. This works out to 50.7% of the total operational budget. It is 8% more than what even the maximum should be.
This means for every N$1.00 residents pay; 50 cents goes to pay employee wages. This is a very sorry state of affairs and one which we will have to rectify,” Bramwell said.
Meanwhile, workers representative chairperson Aser Tjikuniva said they were not consulted by council before the decision was taken to consider a 20% pay cut. “The high wage bill is not something new, maybe it is to the new council, however, we as employees will not allow any negative changes to our salaries. We are opposing it with everything we have. They, however, have our blessings to cut theirs,” he said.
Another employee, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisal, also told New Era the council is taking chances and that the employees are ready to defend their income.
“They know we are in the middle of wage negotiations. Come to think of it, we haven’t received a salary increment for the past two financial years,” the employee said.
Meanwhile, Namibia Public workers Union (Napwu) western region coordinator Richard Kayimbi said council has an agreement with the union and should stick to it when it comes to employee relations. “Council is supposed to follow the Labour Act. In fact, we have heard about the motion but were hoping that they would consult and brief us on the salaries. Anyway, they are dreaming. We will not allow the salary cuts to go forward. They should cut theirs and leave the employees’ alone. Let them not provoke us,” he said.