About 130 Tsumeb Municipality employees are set to go on an indefinite strike as early as this Friday if the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development does not rescind its earlier decision not to grant them an annual salary increase for a second year running.
The municipality and the Namibia Public Workers Union (NAPWU) have been involved in salary negotiations since the beginning of this year, and at one point agreed that the workers would get a 12 percent salary increment spread over two financial years.
The salary adjustments were, however, not implemented at the beginning of the municipality’s new financial year in July.
Last month, the workers downed tools for nearly two hours demanding a six percent salary increase.
The council’s Acting Chief Executive Officer Monique Muturi is said to have told the workers to be patient while council negotiate with the ministry to reconsider its decision.
Muturi then asked the workers to return to their duty stations while her office was consulting the line ministry.
Workers gave council 15 days to resolve the impasse or face an indefinite strike.
Some of the workers who spoke to the Windhoek Observer this week on condition of anonymity said the deadline will come to an end this Friday.
They threatened to go on an illegal strike if their demands are not met.
“We were promised our answer within 15 days and if the 15 days pass by without a positive response then we are going to strike. Whether it is legal or illegal we are going ahead with the strike and we will see if they can fire us all,” the workers told the Windhoek Observer.
They said the cost of living has gone up over the last two years.
“All things have increased but we have not received any salary increment. These people should also think about us. Now we have been denied salary increases while the mayor and the health inspector have gone to South Africa to learn about how to keep Tsumeb clean. What has the mayor have to do with keeping Tsumeb cleaning? The Acting CEO is not even here. We are told that she went to study so that she could qualify to become the substantive CEO.”
The workers said they are surprised that the council does not want to take the matter to the labour court after NAPWU declared a dispute.
NAPWU Northern Region representative Nelson Nghitaunapo confirmed that the union will take unspecified action once the 15 days lapse without any positive response from the council.
He, however, did not want to say what action the union and the workers will take, saying announcing their next course of action in the media will alert the council.
Last month, Tsumeb mayor Matheus Hangula told the Windhoek Observer that Urban and Rural Development Minister Peya Mushelenga has a problem with the municipality’s wage bill which is beyond the 35 percent cap.