Around 500 workers at the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation, the country’s national broadcaster, are expected to embark on a nationwide strike today at 14h00, Namibia Public Workers Union has said.
Napwu branch organiser for the central regions Alpha Murangi told New Era late yesterday that the workers will go on an indefinite strike after negotiations between NBC and the union broke down.
NBC workers are demanding an 8% salary increment but the corporation in a statement last week 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.
Director general Stanley Similo in the statement 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 advertisements 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.
Meanwhile, Napwu, through their lawyer Kadhila Amoomo, yesterday wrote to Similo, warning him of alleged plans by the corporation for middle management to carry out the duties of the striking employees, saying such action does not only constitute a gross breach of the valid strike rules in place but demonstrates the corporation’s approach towards the participation of the striking employees in the legal strike.
“We wish to record that your conduct is unwarranted on any basis, particularly having committed just a day ago to fully comply with the terms of the rules as agreed upon by the parties; you have purposefully ignited our client to pursue legal actions should you so persist,” reads the letter.
NBC replied with a letter from their lawyer Shikale and Associates, denying that middle managers were instructed to carry out work of striking workers. The letter states: “Our client has contractual agreements with freelancers, whom it shall continue to engage as and when required.”
NBC, in the letter, also states that the use of automated systems is not prohibited by the strike rules. In a memorandum of action seen by New Era, both parties agreed NBC will not require non-striking or any other employees to perform any duties, functions or work of the legally striking employees during the industrial action.
The two parties also agreed that no scab labour may be engaged to replace the lawfully striking employees during the industrial action.
It further stated that neither the applicant nor any of its members shall intimidate, harass, interfere or do anything unlawful against non-striking employees who may wish to continue rendering their services to the respondent in their own right.
The parties also agreed that the principle of “no work-no-pay” shall apply for the duration of the industrial strike action to employees participating.