The labour war between the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation and the Namibia Public Workers Union is far from over as the matter heads to court for resolution.
Last week, Napwu approached the High Court on an urgent basis, seeking interim interdicts restraining the NBC from forging ahead with its decisions to cut employees’ leave payouts from 90 to 45 days and to discontinue annual salary notch increments.
Napwu sought the court’s intervention after the national broadcaster had on 11 October indicated in a staff circular that it would discontinue paying out 90 days when an employee leaves the service of the NBC – citing that employees have accumulated huge numbers of leave days, which are in violation of the NBC’s leave provisions and the Labour Act.
The NBC also informed its staff that the normal annual salary increments provided to qualifying staff will be discontinued due to the company’s deplorable financial situation.
All decisions will take effect as from 1 April 2022.
The NBC’s decision comes 10 days after its director general Stanley Similo informed Napwu secretary general Petrus Nevonga on 1 October 2021 that the union no longer holds “the 51% plus one majority required to remain the exclusive bargaining unit” at the broadcaster.
In their communique, the NBC said, “Your union membership as of 1 October is 247, translating to 45.4% of the total workforce of 522 employees”.
The termination action is based on the recognition agreement signed in 2011.
In their application, Nevonga said the NBC “opportunistically” waited to terminate its recognition agreement and thereafter communicated its “illegal action” to the staff.
“The NBC has no right to unilaterally reduce employee leave days and discontinue salary notch increases,” he stressed.
Nevonga added that those employees who are represented by Napwu stand to suffer irreparable damages, and have already suffered financial losses as a result of the NBC’s unilateral, illegal conduct.
“The NBC has made itself guilty of practices expressly prohibited by the labour laws of this country, and in doing so, has acted with utter disregard for the manner in which the exclusive bargaining unit status of Napwu shall be verified,” he charged.
The union had come under serious criticism during a month-long strike that left the broadcaster’s workers in a worse state than before they had downed tools after management gave themselves performance bonuses in December 2020.
The workers went on strike for better working conditions, equipment as well as for contract workers to receive permanent employment.
However, the workers abandoned the strike after a month when the NBC instituted the no-work no-pay principle.
The NBC is yet to file a notice of intent to oppose the application.