Proceedings did not go as planned during the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resources and Community Development consultative meeting with NAPWU on the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation’s (NBC) strike on Tuesday.
The chaos erupted after the Secretary General of Namibia Public Workers (Napwu) Petrus Nevonga said that the parliamentary standing committee does not have the jurisdiction over its union.
Nevonga said they are a union established through the Act of Parliament and the Labour Act which regulates the relationship between the employer and employee.
According to him, in terms of that very same Act, they have identified their scope of regulations, which includes NBC, which means the NBC is under their scope of operation.
This comes after a motion on the NBC workers strike was raised in parliament by former MP, Mike Kavekotora.
Nevonga further said that they deal with matters relating to terms and conditions of employment with NBC, among others, as an employer and they do it in terms of the act of parliament.
“The Labour Act makes provisions for the recognition between the parties which have NAPWU with NBC they do have a recognition agreement with NBC and they conduct their issues in terms of that agreement,” he said.
He added that the issues that concern the workers who are equal members of the public could reach the parliament and if there is a specific committee established to look at that and given the responsibility to look at that it should be done through normal consultations off camera.
The NapwuSecretary General did not want proceedings to be conducted under the nose of the media.
“The way you have set up this consultation does not agree with the terms and conditions of our operation as a union and we are not going to engage you on this basis. The way you have set up this meeting, you can only do it if you have jurisdiction over NAPWU, which you do not have.”
Nevonga further made it clear that the committee does not have jurisdiction over Napwu and they are welcome to consult them on issues of concern but off-camera and without the presence of the media because “it is not how we operate.”
Meanwhile, PDM member of parliasment Max Katjimune said that they cannot allow members of the house and the standing committee to be lectured, insulted, and undermined by him because his sentiments are not advisory but insults towards the members of the committee.
Members of the standing committee requested an order for Nevonga to withdraw his statement for him saying the committee does not know what they are doing. Nevonga refused to withdraw the statement as he said he did not say such a thing.
“It gives the committee a broad mandate to promote harmonious industrialisation in Namibia in the exercise of the duty it is therefore why you are here,” said the committee member.
This public hearing on the NBC strike comes after 600 employees for its radio and television services went on nationwide strike on 22 April 2021 after two years of failed negotiations between management and their union, the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu).
Still in the 2021 meeting between striking workers and Swapo-affiliated Napwu leadership ended in chaos, as the workers accused general secretary Nevonga of not working in their interest.
Staff members claimed that Nevonga was only interested in the Swapo congress and didn’t want to upset his chances of a seat in parliament. The strike ended on the 26 May 2021.