NBC strike hits public and advertisers
There was no end in sight to a nationwide strike at the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) by late yesterday, despite a persistent push by the management to get Government to avail the needed N$9 million to effect salary adjustments.
The strike which started at midnight Wednesday has since caused a black-out of all television and radio services, with all employees camped outside the television centre in the Northern Industrial Park.
The NBC is the biggest radio and television broadcaster in the country and employs a total of 405 people across the country.
The NBC Director-General Albertus Auchamub was locked in a lengthy meeting with the Minister of Information and Communication Technology Joel Kaapanda yesterday, in a bid to find a solution to this predicament.
Namibian Sun could not obtain comments from either, due to their engagements that lasted to late evening - but not yielding any results, leaving employees to instead go home.
But since Wednesday at 24:00, all nine radio stations were shut and were instead auto-piloted on music, while the central news point at the head office was also not functional as all employees took part in the strike.
There were no morning talk shows on radio and all the programmes throughout the day were suspended, while the regular ‘Good Morning Namibia’ show on television was also not aired.
The afternoon did also not see any regular programming on television, the times at which children programmes and documentaries are aired.
The suspension of the services has affected over a million listeners who rely on the radio for news and especially announcements, while many advertising companies have also lost some publicity through the airwaves as a result.
The television programming yesterday morning started with the Al Jazeera news channel and throughout the day there were no images coming through at several occasions.
The broadcaster’s website was last updated on August 15, with a news flash on the strike also highlighted on it.
There were no new items on the website for Thursday.
At this stage, it is not clear what the financial implications could be towards the NBC in regard to airtime lost by the advertisers on both television and radio, while the some members of the public Namibian Sun spoke to, took a mixed stance.
Some argued that it was the right of the employees to demand what is owed to them, while some complained that the employees lacked loyalty towards their company and it was not fair to deny their readers and viewers news.
“The fact remains that even if a company does not plan to accommodate issues such as salary increases, there is a possibility of a strike or a demonstration,” Leefa Shilunga, a listener, said.
A security guard, Nelson Karimbue, wanted to know why companies in Namibia generally make promises to their employees and never seem to honour them.
“For me is it is about getting paid because you work for it. Why must they agree on giving salary increases if they don’t have the money,” he wanted to know.
Fikameni Paulus, a member of the public, said it was the fault of the Government for not helping the NBC.
“The NBC we all know is struggling financially. Now, if they are regarded as a State broadcaster, why not help them when they are in such a problem? They must give the money because people want to listen to the radio and watch television. After all, we pay television licenses,” he said.
The striking employees, who spoke to the Namibian Sun on condition of anonymity yesterday, agreed that they will only return to work after their salaries - backdated to April 1 - are paid into their bank accounts.
“The bottom line is that we want our demands met. When they pay each other bonuses, there is enough money for that. But now that we request small salary increases, there is no money.
What do you call that? The must pay and we can go back to work as normal, one said.
By yesterday at 17:00 union officials confirmed that they did not hear a word from management on their status and will continue with the strike today until their demands are met.
The company and the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) have agreed on a 4% salary increase for all employees, while they also settled matters on benefits such as transport and housing.