About 400 Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) administrative staff members took to the streets this morning following top management’s failure to heed demands for a 40% increase, The Villager newspaper understands.
PoN Rector, Tjama Tjivikua pointed out that the institution lost a staggering N$60m through the budget cut by Government early this year; an exercise that has totally thrown the institution off-balance.
“Our budget was cut by 30%. We lost N$60m. There is no room for maneuver,” Tjivikua said adding that their pleas for additional funding from Government were submitted as early as February this year.
According to the director of communications and marketing, Katitire Kandjii, the negotiations, which already started last month between the Polytechnic and the Namibian Public Workers’ Union (NAPWU), reached a deadlock after the parties failed to reach an agreement on two pertinent issues; salary increments and housing allowances.
Labour Commissioner, Bro-Matthews Shiguadha, could not shed light on the issue as he is not familiar with the details; “I am not familiar with the details of that matter but I have a number of people working on it. Yes, I know they are going on an industrial strike tomorrow (this morning), that is all I know,” Shiguadha told this newspaper on Sunday (yesterday).
Tjivikua expressed his sympathy with the disgruntled employees but insisted that the institution is not in a position to pay increments following the cut in subsidy early this year.
“We have nothing to give. Let us put it this way: When you get an offer, you obviously look at what is on the table, then you determine whether or not you can afford it. We do not refuse to engage but we cannot afford to give any penny,” the Polytechnic rector said.
Tjivikua also noted that the institution is not prepared for the aftermath of such a strike, which is the first since his time as a rector.
“One never knows what the outcome will be and how it will affect other departments but we are trying as hard as we can to avert any consequences,” he urged.