Government and the Namibian National Teachers Union (NANTU) are set for a collision course because of a collapse in ongoing negotiations over a proposed eight percent increase for teachers.

NANTU Secretary General Basilius Haingura told Prime Focus Magazine that his organisation is not interested in the five percent increment put on the table by the Government in the 2016/2017 financial year. Instead he wants the Government to accord the teachers an eight percent increment.

“If Government does not want to increase  teachers’ salary we will take it up with the labour commissioner, what does government mean when they say there is no money but they are they are not paying teachers but themselves only,” Haingura says.

A rather adamant Haingura also says NANTU will go the legal route should Government continue to backpedal on their demands to get a better package for teachers. NANTU have been consistent in the past two to three years about their demands to have the standards of living for both primary school and secondary school teachers improved through reasonable wages and allowances.

 “The Government is already not paying the correct amount for qualified teachers, if we have to demand the right salary supposed to be paid to highly qualified teachers they won’t be able to afford us, now apparently we are asking too much.”

Although government considers poverty eradication as the first priority, Haingura believes that teachers’ salary is also important because they are getting an amount which is below inflation.

“We did not issue a press conference on NBC to fight with government but inform our members about the current debate,  however if government does not give us that eight percent we are asking for, we will take the matter further, he says.”

Following protracted negotiations between Government and NANTU, fiscus has been eager to pay an improved remuneration to teachers over two financial years including 10 percent for grades 15 to 13, five percent for grades 12 to 5 and four percent for grades4 to 1A.

Government have also not been keen to put a hefty increase of offer because of a plethora of financial challenges caused by effects of a prolonged drought, high unemployment rate, need for a mass land servicing, increasing need for housing across the country, the fight against poverty and hunger, need for public service reforms and the increase in food prices.

Speaking on the issue in a recent announcement Secretary to Cabinet and Head of the Government’s negotiating team George Simataa says, “To demonstrate the willingness of the government to resolve the problem, a further intervention took place in terms of regulation 32. (8) Of the regulations issued in terms of section 34 of the Public service Act, 1995 (Act 13 of 1995), in the form of a consultative meeting with his Excellency, the Vice president of the republic of Namibia on 30 May 2016.This engagement, unfortunately could not achieve an ultimatum of five working days to agree to their proposal. This was unfortunately as this was not the spirit of both the negotiations and the high level consultations that took place with his Excellency the Vice President of the Republic of Namibia.”

He further explains that, “this is premature and need to be dealt with in a professional way, we are not fighting with NANTU but just informing them that, what they are asking us to do is impossible, one cannot try to squeeze juice from an empty bottle knowing that there is no juice in it.”

Simataa also encourages NANTU to stop making threats of dragging them to conciliation and understand that the drought in the country should be a national concern and not only government’s issue to solve.

Simataa also mentions that, “we cannot dish out money while there are people out there that are sleeping with hunger and not having a roof on top of their head, the teachers that are asking for an increment are people that are already having a comfortable life, let’s give government an opportunity to priorities other sectors.”

“We all know that there is now an increase demand for educational opportunities, lets rather work together as a nation in building the country,” he says.