We will not retreat – Nantu
Despite a pending court case in which government wants to stop the planned nationwide teachers’ strike which is to begin Thursday, the Namibia National Teachers’ Union (Nantu) has vowed that teachers are ready and will not back down until their demands are met.
Government has asked the court to order a temporary suspension of the planned strike to allow time for the strike rules to be revised to avoid the disruption of final examinations that are already in full swing.
“There are no changes, the strike is as planned. We are not retreating. As to the designated areas, we already communicated to the parties (government and the police),” Nantu secretary general Basilius Haingura said yesterday.
When asked about the designated venues for the strike, he said there are various places but it will be done far from schools.
“We have been locked out, that is why we not striking at the workplace. People must be ready for the day,” Haingura said.
In the Khomas Region, he said, they have identified a place near the Swapo headquarters and also at Government Office Park, among other areas.
He said Nantu and its members are ready for the strike come 07h00 on Thursday.
He urged Nantu regional chairpersons to continue mobilizing fellow teachers to come out in big numbers at various identified areas on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Namibian National Students Organisation (Nanso) sent out a solidarity message to all teachers, following their vote to take industrial action in support of their 8 percent salary hike demands.
“This sends a message to our government that you cannot go on accepting poverty increments. Members of Nantu and TUN will be out on strike, and we expect that the industrial action will bring the government back to the negotiating table with an improved offer of at least above the inflation rate,” stated Nanso secretary general Dimbulukeni Nauyoma.
“We consider your fight (teachers) for decent pay and conditions as a fight at the heart of fighting against the corrupt neo-liberal elite, who are everywhere enriching themselves at the expense of the vast majority. Teachers have for long been paid very little. This ugly situation persisted until the teaching profession became the laughing stock of everyone,” said Nauyoma.
Nanso is of the opinion that government needs to go further than increase teachers’ salaries, calling on the state to review the salary scale of teachers to attract the brightest students to join the teaching profession.
According to Nanso, the teaching profession has generally lost its impact, respect and authority in the community and the country at large.
Nanso says it understands the consequences of the teachers’ strike on learners, as there are those who will soon be writing exams while others have started.
“Nanso will not tolerate any uniformed external professionals such as police officers or soldiers presiding over the national examinations. The organization will close down schools should that be considered. It is our considered opinion based on our analysis of the minister of basic education’s (Katrina Hanse-Himarwa’s) response to the teachers’ demands that government has not been negotiating in good faith. Government used so much energy on preparing for the strike rather than avoiding it,” Nauyoma said.
Considering the fact that exams have already started, Nanso pleaded with the government to postpone the exam dates for two weeks in order to resolve the dispute with teachers, while urging learners to study hard and be focused on the exams.