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GRN wins Labour Court ruling to appeal to Supreme Court …as battle with Nantu to pay rural teachers incentives rages on

by Kelvin Chiringa

Government lawyers yesterday won a ruling in the labour court to appeal to the Supreme Court after they initially lost a case in which the Namibia National Teachers Union was pushing for the payment, in incentives, of rural-based qualified teachers.

Government has in the meantime landed a momentous victory given that it was poised to suffer budget overruns amounting to more than N$300 million.

The dispute between GRN and Nantu stems from two agreements signed between 2009/10 and 2012/15 in which rural teachers were to be paid remote incentives (based on the 2009/10 agreement).

However, the latest agreement included all qualified teachers as beneficiaries of an allowance.  

Lawyers representing the teachers submitted in their heads of arguments last week that the signing of the latest collective agreement did not mean automatic nullification of the first agreement (2009/10)

However, lawyers representing government submitted that the 2009 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) did not create any right to payment of incentives. 

“It said the following: In paragraph 2.5.1, the parties agreed that “the matter of School Principals and incentives for teachers submitted to the Office of the Prime Minister be finalized and implemented effective from 1st April 2009; and in paragraph 2.6.5, the parties agreed that a joint Committee be constituted “to work out viable options” for incentives for professionals’ scarce skills, remote and Hardship Areas,” they argued.

According to their interpretation, the 2010 Collective Settlement Agreement also did not say what incentives would be paid and that no amount was specified.

Government lawyers are confident that there is a reasonable prospect that the Supreme Court will conclude, having regard to the context and content of the 2009/2010 and 2012/2015 agreements, that the final agreement incorporates the 2009/2010 agreement and extends the persons to whom the benefits will be provided.

“From the point of view of the beneficiaries of the 2010 Agreement, the content is identical.  They are to receive the same benefit, for the same purpose.  The only difference is that certain other State employees are also to receive those benefits,” they submitted.

Appolos Shimakeleni of Appolos Shimakeleni Lawyers is representing government together with Senior Counsel Geoffrey Budlender on the instructions of Hafeni Hamunyela and Jabulani Ncube of the Government Attorney.