Ex-striking NBC employees fight for unpaid salaries

24 June 2021 | Labour

OGONE TLHAGE



WINDHOEK

Despite agreeing to the principle of ‘no work, no pay’ for their strike nearly two months ago, NBC employees who participated in the protest have dragged the broadcaster to court for not being paid during that time.

Many have also quit their membership of the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu), saying they have lost faith in the Swapo-affiliated union.

Striking workers had demanded a salary increment and better working conditions, which resulted in operations at the corporation coming to a standstill from the end of May for an almost five-week period.

“The respondents have already started making deductions from some employees’ remuneration which resulted in some employees receiving zero salary for the month of May and this has placed these employees in dire financial problems, affecting not only them but also their dependants,” the employees argued in a founding affidavit.

“Many employees risk having some of their belongings bought on hire purchase repossessed as they will in light of these illegal deductions not be able to meet their financial obligations,” the affidavit added.

Employees further stated that they would have little to no money to fight any complications rising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Given the pandemic that we are in, the employees are required to take extra precautions. This includes buying certain food stuffs and other supplements to boost their immune systems, something they would not be able to do with a zero salary,” the affidavit said.

“If the employees cannot come to work due to an inability to afford transport, they could end up losing their jobs,” they said.

Not illegal

The NBC is, however, sticking to its guns, arguing that the striking employees were well aware that they were striking on the basis of ‘no work, no pay’.

“The employees participating in the strike would have been appraised by Napwu of the consequences of participating in the strike already by 19 April, and remained bounded by the terms of the Memorandum on Industrial Action,” its chief human resources officer, Vezenga Kauraisa said in an answering affidavit.

“The ‘no work, no pay’ rule means exactly what it says, that employees participating in a strike will have their wages reduced and/or withheld, depending on the number of days in which they absented themselves and or withheld their services from the employer,” he added.

He further denied that deductions made from employees’ salaries was illegal.

“I deny the allegation that the deductions made from the employees who participated in the strike is unlawful. This allegation is misleading. The employees who participated in the strike were well informed about the ‘no work, no pay’ rule, which was an agreed to term between Napwu and the first respondent.”

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