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By: Kelvin Chiringa

The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) seem to be mending relations after a fight over the union’s continued representation of workers.

The national broadcaster’s director-general, Stanley Similo, has written to Napwu’s general-secretary, Petros Nevonga, about his move to retract a notice of 21 June 2021 about the union’s loss of exclusive bargaining status.

Napwu has been fighting for its position as the solely recognised representative for NBC workers when Similo wrote to them,

“The understanding is that this retraction will (pave) the way for the full verification of the calculations applied by NBC to conclude that Napwu lost the exclusive bargaining status as from 1 October 2021 to date; the facilitation of consultation regarding the discontinuation of the notch increases; the reduction of leave payout upon resignation from 90 days to 45 days; and the full implementation of the performance management system,” said Similo in his 28 January letter to Nevonga.

Similo told Nevonga that he hopes this process will create a conducing working condition for both parties to calm down the long, drawn-out war of words and simmering tensions between the two.

This development follows an agreement between NBC and NAPWU representatives during the conciliatory meeting held on 25 January 2022 at the Labour Commission.

In the meantime, Napwu has celebrated this as a major victory for them, proving that NBC was wrong from the start.

 Lengi Johannes, a unionist from NAPWU, said, “We are happy, and we knew because we knew that what NBC was doing was not proper”.

When NBC served them with the notice of their “loss of bargaining power”, he said they still had a majority representation (50 +1) of the NBC workers.

“We do not know what exactly happened, why NBC was in a rush. Even if we get into the verification process and it comes out that our membership has reduced, then it means that NBC has to follow the due procedure, which they did not follow at first,” he said.

He said the entity should have summoned them in the first place, gone through verification with them and given them a grace period of three months.

NBC and Napwu fell out soon after a failed strike where after aggrieved workers called for a boycott of the union.

But Lengi said the strike’s failure should not be blamed on them, as they executed the workers’ mandate to carry a downing of tools. 

The workers were demanding that NBC: implement the 8% salary increment, addresses concerns regarding workers’ employment benefits, employ all workers now on one-month contracts on a full-time basis, as well as adhere to the set strike rules.

The strike ended with no breakthrough on the salaries issue. 

“We did not learn any lesson from that strike. The only thing is that the time was not right, and the other thing is that for us to go on strike, it was because of the management. If the management had not paid themselves that N$5.4 million… you see, because all along, we had been engaging them to get to the table and discuss the salary issue.

“They were always saying there was no money. But after they paid themselves the N$5.4 million and we picked it up, that was the only time they agreed to set a date. When you are negotiating, you know it’s a give and takes, and we followed all the processes. When we reached a deadlock, we went to the labour commissioner, and when this could not be resolved, a certificate of the unresolved dispute was issued. 

“Then we came back to the members and said this is the situation, and the members gave us the mandate and said we should go ahead and vote, which we did. A majority voted. I think it’s just the understanding. The understanding from the members sometimes is such that they end up blaming the union,” he said. 


Kelvin Chiringa

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