Outjo Municipal Workers On Go-Slow Over Pay Dispute

OUTJO municipal workers are on a go-slow after talks over pay between their union and management reached a stalemate.

At the centre of the dispute is the government-approved new salary structure effective from 1 July this year for local authorities that has seen some municipal workers getting huge salary increases.

Napwu branch organiser Hambira Mate yesterday confirmed that the municipal workers have declared a wage dispute.

Mate did not rule out full-fledged industrial action, if the wage dispute remains unresolved.

When asked whether the workers have gone on a go-slow, Mate said: “I am not aware of it.” However, Mate quickly added that the workers’ morale might have been ‘disturbed’ over the dragging on of the wage dispute.

“We have pleaded with the workers to remain focused,” Mate said.

Oujo municipal chief executive officer Josef Abel Uirib said the council is not refusing to implement the new salary structure, but that local authorities cannot sustain it.

“The issue here is about affordability,” Uirib remarked, adding that due to limited funds, they cannot afford increases as high as 396% stipulated in the new structure.

He revealed that council, in order to afford the increases, requested N$4,4 million from government to subsidise the staggering new salary bill.

“The union has agreed with council to request for a government subsidy to fund the salaries, but while we are still waiting for a response, they suddenly declared a dispute three weeks after council had requested the subsidy,” said Uirib, adding that the council will need government assistance to pay salaries for another three to six years.

In terms of the new salary structure for local authorities, the Category C Outjo Municipality CEO will receive a starting annual salary of N$ 332 856 while a cleaner will pocket a monthly salary of N$ 4 205.

In a recent interview with The Namibian, local government minister Charles Namoloh said those councils that cannot afford and sustain the massive pay hikes that came with the government-approved new salary structure for local authorities, are not compelled to implement them.

Source : The Namibian