Fisheries Minister Bernard Esau has finally found common ground with fisheries employees who had resorted to persistent strike action over an outstanding N$7 million in overtime payments are slated to be paid this week.
Esau successfully quelled a strike that had been slated for this past week, held an urgent meeting with the workers upon which an agreement was reached.
“The meeting was very comradely. It was very open. We said we would try to look at how we can honour our obligation regarding payments of S&Ts as soon as possible,” he said.
The minister said that they have been facing cash challenges for some time which explains the delay in reaching an accord.
“You know there are also other issues involved in this matter. As I said, it’s an administrative issue. Administratively for sure, there are some kinds of procedures to be followed regarding the Public Service Act. And when overtimes are granted or given, there are also procedures to be followed.”
“You cannot just say I am going to work overtime. Your supervisor must state when there should be overtime. So those issues had to be checked and verified as well,” he said.
Pressed on where the money will come from, he said his ministry would look at other avenues to source the needed cash although he could not deny the possibility of treasury chipping in.
Speaking to The Villager, NAPWU’s Walvis Bay branch organiser Sony Ndalumbumo expressed enthusiasm after the Swakopmund meeting last week.
“What I can say is that we have settled and the battle is over,” he said.
He confirmed that the minister had indeed committed to settling the outstanding amount although he did not make it clear to them where the money would come from.
“The only surety we got is that the settlement will be made next week before the end of the month. The minister did not get into detail. Him not being the administrative head, he is simply a politician, so he did not dwell much on why they took that long (to pay). He expressed concern,” he said.
The Villager attempted to reach finance minister, Calle Schlettwein, but he was not available to confirm the position of treasury with regards to the payments.