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By: Kelvin Chiringa

NamPower employees exploded into a demonstration Thursday afternoon, denouncing managing director Kahenge Haulofu and the board for resolving to freeze salary increases for the 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years.

The workers, led by the Mine Workers Union (MUN), have said that the NamPower management and board took this decision without any negotiations to reach an agreement with the union.

So far, NamPower and MUN have a recognition agreement.

“While the annual negotiations were ongoing, and no agreement was reached, the MD’s communique containing resolutions taken by the board of directors was sent out to all employees. This is not just a violation of the recognition agreement in place. It is also a disregard to the ethics of the relationship between NamPower management and employees,” they said.

The workers picketed in front of the NamPower head office, where Haulofu and his management team received their petition.

The workers have been irked by increasing tariffs by 2.92% with the ECB’s approval. This also prompted the City of Windhoek to hike its power tariffs by 3.4% for consumers.

The employees have expressed that they fail to understand how to make sense of the situation given that their salary freeze means they can’t keep up with the electricity bills.

“The union fails to comprehend the fact that NamPower came to a zero increase (of salaries) while they increased the tariffs of electricity,” they told Haulofu.

While the board has cut the wage bill, workers have said they continue to see positions advertised externally to recruit more people.

They have thus accused management of not walking the talk.

“The union demands management’s engagement against non-critical positions advertised externally to be filled by internal employees. NamPower, at its capacity, can come up with measures that most of these positions that are being externally advertised can be filled internally.

“If NamPower is really to succeed with cutting the high wage bill, succession planning needs to be enforced as a matter of urgency. Results need to speak volumes than words of management who wish to take away from employees without exploring other options available first,” they said.

Another major headache for the employees is the resolution to cease the in-rank adjustment practice, which is considered harsh and unethical.

This means that hundreds of employees may never be promoted due to a lack of qualifications, the workers have decried.

The in-rank practice is considered at NamPower to be one of the great instruments available in the company to help employees elevate their grades.

“This tool is equally regarded to push employees’ maximum output, going out of their way to have good performance ratings that may contribute to their in-rank adjustment. As a result of the in-rank adjustment, NamPower maintained its standards in operations which saw no disruptions in maintaining the power of supply.

“Removing the in-rank adjustment could only mean one thing to the employees, that your hard work and selfless dedication to NamPower is now meaningless moving forward,” they have reasoned.

Haulofu has said some of the grievances were unknown to the board, although it will look into the petition and bring forth the way forward.

Kelvin Chiringa

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