Municipality workers up in arms

Demand for equal salaries

03 December 2018 | Government

Uanjenguaie Tjiurutue; Chairperson of NAPWU's representative committee; “. . . we remain at point one because of the selfishness and uncaring attitude of the councillors and their management.

Swakopmund municipality workers, who were represented by the Namibia Public Workers Union (NAPWU), held a demonstration on Tuesday expressing their dissatisfaction with their salaries for this financial year.

Speaking on behalf of the workers the chairperson of NAPWU's representative committee, Uanjenguaie Tjiurutue, said:

“We, the workers of the Swakopmund municipality are sick and tired of the selfishness of the councillors and their management. We have been negotiating since March 2018 but we remain at point one because of the selfishness and uncaring attitude of the councillors and their management.

“They are indeed selfish because not too long ago, 2016 to be exact, the councillors adjusted their allowances in line with Part 1 municipalities; their seating allowances shooting up from N$100 to N$800. No wonder they are having special meetings almost every week, maximally capitalising on the increased seating allowances,” said Tjiurutue.

According to him the Swakopmund municipality's management, which includes managers, general managers and chief executive officer, are about 0.4% closer to their counterparts at the Walvis Bay municipality in terms of salary, while ordinary workers (street cleaners and general workers) are 20% away.

“We cannot tolerate such a situation. Since 2015 we have been trying to convince councillors and their management about the need for adjustment because of inequity in the salary structure, but they have been unwilling or dismissive, to put it correctly. Our concerns are legitimate and justifiable.

“The salaries of municipality management are close to that of their counterparts of Walvis Bay municipality whilst the ordinary workers, those who actually do the work, are lagging far behind. We believe as employees working for the same organisation the ratio between us and our colleagues in Walvis Bay or any other organisation should be equal and not what is currently the case.

“In fact, we gave the councillors and their management an irresistible proposal to say let us agree on adjustment within your budgetary means. That means if they have budgeted 10% for salaries we agree on adjustment within that 10%. Still they did not take that offer,” he said.

“The councillors and their management are trying to justify the situation by saying that the economy of Walvis Bay is bigger than that of Swakopmund because of the industry, therefore we cannot compare the two. We are saying yes, it is true that the economy of Walvis Bay might be bigger than that of Swakopmund. However, the same economy of Swakopmund, small as it is, is able to carry the managers, general managers, chief executive officer and councillors with their heavy perks. Why is it not able to carry street cleaners and general workers?” said Tjiurutue.

The union gave the municipality's management seven days to respond to their grievances. Erkki Shitana, chairperson of the Swakopmund town council's management committee, received the petition on behalf of the municipality and promised the union that they will get a timely response.