NBC board unfazed by NAPWU legal action
14 May 2021 | Local News
Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) board chairperson Lazarus Jacobs has shrugged off the litigation instituted by the Namibia Public Workers Union (NAPWU) which seeks to force the company to meet the demands of striking workers.
NAPWU dragged NBC to the Labour Court on Wednesday after accusing the national broadcaster of having negotiated in bad faith regarding salary negotiations, adding that NBC was aware no salary increments would be granted for the 2021 financial year.
“They are exercising their democratic right, which they are entitled to. We are not fazed at all. We will present our facts and they will present theirs and the Labour Court will make a judgement accordingly,” Jacobs said when approached yesterday.
NBC’s employees have been on strike since 22 April and have requested a 5.1% salary hike. This has, however, been rejected, with the broadcaster saying any salary increase is unaffordable.
The workers marched to the Office of the Prime Minister and handed over a petition to Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila in which they listed their demands.
Government was aware
In papers filed with the Labour Court, the union said government and NBC knew no salary increases would be granted despite negotiations thereto.
“While the negotiations between NAPWU and the NBC for wage increases were underway, the government and the NBC know that no wage increase will be granted for the financial year 2021 and 2022,” NAPWU said.
“The government knew that the board of the NBC must have known, through its legally mandated consultations, that there will be significant cuts to the subsidy that is granted to the NBC yearly, this making any salary increase illusory,” the union added.
NAPWU argued that plans to reduce NBC’s subsidy by government were never discussed.
“These facts were not disclosed to NAPWU when it commenced wage negotiations with the NBC in December 2020. What ensued were sham negotiations that extended until 27 January, when the NBC reneged on a principled understanding regarding wage and benefit increases for employees in the bargaining unit,” the union said.
According to its obligations, NBC is supposed to provide NAPWU with up-to-date information on important changes which affect staff members of the NBC, consult NAPWU on matters of mutual interest relating to the workplace of NAPWU members, to supply NAPWU with necessary information to carry out effective consultations and negotiations and to consult on current situation, structure and probable development of employment in the undertaking, especially any threat to employment, NAPWU said - none of which had been done.
“None of the discussions between NBC and the portfolio minister [ministry of information] in terms of section 15 of the Public Enterprises Governance Act on the proposed budget of the NBC were shared with NAPWU.
“It is safe to assume that the board was informed of the intended wage freeze and significant cuts to the subsidy of the NBC by the minister,” NAPWU said.
“The purpose of this application is to declare that the conduct of the NBC and the government during the wage negotiations in 2020 and 2021 is unlawful, as it undermines orderly collective bargaining, constitutes bargaining in bad faith and subverts the provisions of section 34 of the Labour Act,” the union added.
Jacobs has repeatedly implored the striking workers to return to work, while that request continues to fall on deaf ears.
“The board is adamant that the strike should end, and this can only happen if all parties come together to find workable solutions. It is still the board’s position that there won’t be any winners with this strike,” he said.