Tensions remain high between unionists and the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) management as workers continue to participate in a protected industrial action.
NBC workers, who are demanding better pay and working conditions, have been on strike for more than a week, leading to a total blackout at the national broadcaster.
Management has remained tightlipped on the way forward when asked about the matter this week, with workers reiterating they will not compromise on their demands. Information and communication technology minister Peya Mushelenga said he has met with the management and workers, where he directed the authorities to provide him with detailed information on payments made by the corporation and cost-saving measures put in place.
“I have also suggested conciliation by the Labour Commissioner, to which workers are amenable. The minister of labour was not in town. He only returned this afternoon [yesterday],” Mushelenga added.
The NBC management yesterday refused to talk about any new updates or the way forward regarding the strike, which has negatively affected the masses, especially those who largely rely on radio for communication purposes.
NBC board chairperson Lazarus Jacobs told New Era they will issue a statement on Friday morning. Meanwhile, striking workers have vowed to return to work “without hesitation” if the entire management is dissolved. “We want to inform the Namibian nation that we, the hardworking workers of the NBC, are not giving up. We remain united and steadfast in our resolve to be heard and fight this battle,” the striking employees wrote on their dedicated Facebook page.
The page was created to have the voices of the NBC workers heard by the Namibian nation as they embarked on a strike from 22 April 2021.
The striking workers are demanding an 8% pay rise and an increase in transport, accommodation and medical aid allowances. They also want workers who have been on monthly contracts to be offered permanent contracts.
‘Lack of urgency’
Meanwhile, in a statement issued yesterday, National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) secretary general Joseph Kauandenge feels the NBC issue should be addressed head-on by the government.
Kauandenge, who is a member of the parliamentary standing committee on information and communication technology, confirmed they have engaged Mushelenga and the NBC management last week.
“Through our conversation last week and judging from the questions we asked them, it became very clear that both the minister and the NBC management have no clue whatsoever on how they can get the NBC out of this mess,” Kauandenge charged.
Mushelenga hit back at Kauandenge yesterday, saying his statement was devoid of any truth.
“He left the meeting at the beginning of my briefing. He was not even present when questions and clarifications were made,” claimed Mushelenga.
According to Nudo, it is clear that nepotism, victimisation and the politics of patronage have been entrenched at NBC, and only those well connected with top management are taken care of at the expense of the working class.
He also demanded that President Hage Geingob be engaged to help find a solution.
“Hence, it is time now that the Head of State must intervene in the ongoing strike at the NBC, and summon the NBC board together with the line minister to find an amicable solution to this issue once and for all,” he stressed.
Yesterday, reports were rife that the management of NBC had met the President. However,both Jacobs and presidential spokesperson Alfredo Hengari denied reports that NBC management met with Geingob this week to discuss the broadcaster’s striking workers.
“There is no truth to that meeting,” Jacobs said. Hengari also confirmed that no meeting with NBC management ever took place. “There is no request on the part of the NBC management to meet with the Head of State,” Hengari clarified. - email@example.com