‘Stop fooling public servants’

Kuzeeko Tjitemisa (New Era Newspaper)

15 Nov 2021

… PSUN rebukes Napwu over government workers’ pay

Public Service Union of Namibia (PSUN) has rebuked the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu), accusing it of “fooling” civil servants when they said their salary negotiations process for the 2021/2022 financial year is still ongoing.

“We call on our brothers to start real negotiations or step aside. They have failed the public servants for too long and now they are busy fooling them again, this is not good, it is bad in the public eye and is flagrantly shameful,” PSUN secretary general Ndjizuvee Haakuria told journalists yesterday.

Napwu general secretary Petrus Nevonga last week assured civil servants that the negotiations process for the 2021/2022 financial year is still ongoing, and parties are due to meet on 29 November for continuation of talks.

“The purported negotiations between Nantu/Napwu and the government are a mock negotiation, just like the ones they recently had with NBC and sometime back with Unam,” said Haakuria.

Haakuria said the budget for 2021/2022 has already been tabled and execution is in progress and the same is true for the additional budget for 2021/2022 tabled recently.

“The budget did not and does not contain any provision for salary increment,” he said.

Haakuria said currently, government is busy finalising tabling somewhere in February the 2022/2023 budget.

He said finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi is under the impression that there will be 0% change.

“Is it possible that the key ministry will not be aware of any collective bargaining process as far as salary increment and improvement of conditions of service of the civil servants are concerned for Shiimi not to budget for such components?” he questioned.

According to Nevonga, Napwu and Nantu submitted a salary and benefits incremental proposal for the financial year 2021/2022 to government in February this year.

The unions requested a 10% increment for salaries across the board, 25% increase to qualifying amounts on housing subsidies, 9% increase on housing allowances, 10% increase on transport for civil servants below management and N$7 per kilometre tariff increase.

In May, the unions received a counter offer in writing from government, informing them of its inability to grant salary increments for the 2021/2022 financial year as per the unions’ proposal. Government said at the time “state finances are already stretched to safeguard current government expenditures, inclusive of remuneration related expenditure in order to sustain critical public services and programmes…while maintaining fiscal sustainability and that public revenue have significantly reduced due to a decline in the economy, amongst others”.

In his mid-term budget review speech, Shiimi stressed government intends to tighten the noose on unnecessary expenditure while also keeping down the public wage bill, which gobbles up over 50% of public expenditure under control.

“I would like to extend specific gratitude to the trade unions and indeed all civil servants for heeding our call and keeping their belts tightened. We still plead with them to maintain patience especially in the next fiscal year, which promises to be more difficult, so we allow the economy to recover more firmly,” Shiimi said in his speech.

He also said government has put a moratorium on mass personnel recruitment in the civil service while concurrently speeding up the work of the steering committee on wage bill reforms, aimed at reducing personnel expenditure over the medium-term expenditure framework.