Fat Christmas bonuses haunt NBC

Despite warnings that a strike would put even more pressure on the embattled broadcaster’s coffers, NBC staff have refused to stand down.

06 April 2021 | Local News



NBC director general Stanley Similo has warned staff members that a planned strike over a salary dispute will put the broadcaster in a precarious situation.

“We will be entering an uncertain period of time as far as the resolution of this unresolved dispute is concerned, he said.

Staff members are, however, adamant that while they are aware of the broadcaster’s dire financial situation, its decision to pay managers bonuses at the end of last year provoked them into action.

The broadcaster is at loggerheads with employees who have demanded an 8% salary increase in addition to benefits payable for two years. This was rejected, with NBC offering employees a once-off payment of between N$10 000 and N$20 000.

Namibian Sun understands that employees voted overwhelmingly to strike, with voting concluded in all its offices except Tsumkwe.

As it stands, 316 employees have voted in favour of the strike, with only nine voting against it.

Bonus conundrum

NBC workers union representative acting chairperson Johannes Lengi said while the employees were generally sympathetic to the state of the broadcaster’s coffers, the fact that several bonuses were paid to the director general and several managers brought into question where money came from.

“NBC has been saying there is no money but in 2019/20, we came to learn of so-called bonuses. Where did this money come from? That is what provoked us,” he said.

“Should they not have paid themselves, it would have been a different story,” he added.

Another thorn in employees’ flesh was that the media reported about the board’s stance without staff being informed, he said.

Uncertainty looming

The broadcaster has stuck to its guns on the intended once-off payment, saying anything contrary to its offer could lead to its liquidation or a reduction in staff numbers.

“The Namibia Public Workers Union [Napwu] and NBC shop stewards remained with the position and view that employees reverted to an 8% salary increase plus benefits payable for two years and also indicated that employees and Napwu were not bothered about any possible staff reduction or if the company was to be liquidated like Air Namibia,” Similo said.

He expressed disappointment in Napwu and the representatives’ stance.

“The latter statement was indeed very harmful, uncalled for and highly unexpected from the union leadership, who should also care about job security and continued employment of all NBC employees,” Similo said.

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