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NBC dead air continues

There was still no new development late last night despite unconfirmed reports that union representatives and management were locked in talks to break the deadlock over demands for a salary increase by Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) employees.
NBC employees went on a nation-wide strike on Wednesday midnight over salaries. Namibia Public Workers' Union (Napwu) general-secretary Erastus Nevonga said yesterday that the strike was still on.

Gabes Andumba, Napwu deputy secretary general told Nampa yesterday afternoon that no amicable solution has been found and NBC workers were likely to continue with the strike today. Since midnight on Wednesday, NBC has only been playing music on its radio services, while on the national television channel there was only dead air, with television screens featuring only a static NBC logo.

Disgruntled workers left the NBC premises at 5pm yesterday as negotiations between management and the union reached a deadlock. Andumba said that 251 out of 405 employees have voted in favour of the strike. He further said that the union signed a principal agreement with NBC in May in which the parties agreed to increase workers' salaries, but the increments were not effected because the corporation has no money.

In the draft agreement, those employees in the P4 to P6 range (Peromnes Job Grading System, which is equivalent to the E-Band in the Paterson Grading System) would get an increase of 1%.

The parties also agreed to increase salaries by 4.4% for those in the P7-P18 range (equivalent to D lower, C, B and A Bands on the Paterson scale). The agreement also stipulated that rental allowances be increased by 100% over a period of three years, in which the first year's rental allowance would be increased by 50%, followed by a 25% increase in the second year and a final 25% in the third year.

The union and the national broadcaster agreed that the company would contribute 60% to housing allowances, while the employees would contribute the remaining 40%. The transportation allowance was supposed to increase from N$430 to N$490 across the board, while those employees whose vehicles are on the vehicle maintenance scheme would get N$950, up from N$925.

They also agreed that subsistence and travel allowances (S&T) would be based on the rates applicable in the different regions of the country, since some regions with tourist attractions are more expensive than the rest. The parties also agreed to reduce contract employees at the national broadcaster and to employ them on a permanent basis.

When approached for comment on Wednesday, NBC director general, Albertus Aochamub, said the broadcaster made provision of N$9 million in its budget for salary increments and other demands by employees. That would have satisfied at least half of the demands of the employees, but they did not get the funds in this financial year.

"The impression is being created that we ran to government at the last minute (for the increments)," said Aochamub, explaining that when they submitted their budget proposal to government in November 2011, they included the requirement for salary increments. He said management is still waiting for government to respond. Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Joel Kaapanda, could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print.

Source: allAfrica