Ondangwa mayor, Paavo Amwele,has said that the town council’s aggrieved employees should be grateful that they have a salary as it is better than nothing.
Amwele made the remarks in the wake of a strike by about 38 employees of the town who downed tools last week, demanding a 10% salary increase.
They also complained about working long hours and being paid pittancefor overtime worked.
According to the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) which is representing the aggrieved workers, the union and the council have agreed on a 10% hike, but the urban and rural development ministry only approved a 3% risethat was announced in August this year.
“Everyone needs to be mindful of the problems the country is experiencing at the moment. We are faced with high unemployment and economic hardships, yet people are striking for a 10% salary increase,” he told The Villager.
The mayor further said that a salary that one gets is better than nothing because some people are not getting paid at all as they are jobless.
“They must be grateful; they have a salary at least. For the time being, looking at the difficult economic situation, it is better for everyone to at least accept what was has been offered. Everyone should note that the revenue we collect from our clients is the one that we use to pay our workers. We don’t get anything from the government,” Amwele explained.
“Most of the town council houses belong to some officials whose salaries were increased by 3% as public servants this year. Now if you are working for people who are okay with a 3% increment and you are claiming for 10%, how is that making sense to your fellow workers? This will bring commotion,” he said.
He said if they were to give employees the 10% pay increase they are demanding, it will necessitate the council to increase the rates for municipality services, which is not the right thing to do given the current realities.
The mayor said that council does not have the authority to unilaterally hike employees’ salaries,assuch, this can only be done with the approval of the line minister.
On the issue of the increased workload for employees, Amwele explained as thus: “The number of workers is going down every day and there is a lot of services to be delivered to residents. We totally understand that they are doing a lot since they are few in number.”