The Ohangwena Regional Executive Committee of NANTU has declared the year 2021 to be a year for bitter struggles, not only against Covid-19 but also against a host of issues affecting teachers across the region and nationally.

In a wide-ranging letter distributed to the union’s structures and social media platforms the chairperson of NANTU in Ohangwena Mr George Hafilwa pointed out some of the pertinent issues which will receive urgent attention during the year such as: “Accepting Covid-19 as part of our lives; addressing the unendurable economic hardship; self-reliance on food security; quid pro quo; the essence of reading policies; GIPF/SSC; solidarity with other workers”.

“The Regional Executive Committee is once again acknowledging the way our members and educators conducted themselves during the [2020] difficult months of Covid-19. Moreover, the fight is not yet over until it is over.

“Within the scope of commitments, we are calling upon our members to accept the new normal. We have learnt a lot as far as Covid-19 is concerned, so we must live with it. Our commitments must not be hindered by Covid-19 anymore; the virus is here to stay; we just need to protect ourselves as compelled,” Hafilwa said.

“In the same vein we are appealing to the elderly colleagues (aged 55-59), those expecting and breastfeeding educators and those with listed comorbidities to take strict precautions in order for them to be safe.

“The second wave of the virus is more severe than the first one and our colleagues or the vulnerable categories are more at risk. Supervisors need to allow the colleagues to work from home as advised by the Ministry of Health and Social Services.”

On the economic hardships faced by teachers, Hafilwa said that meetings at all levels of the union will be held in the months of January and February this year to discuss and then present concrete demands to the Government before the tabling of the National Budget.

“There is no rhetoric on the economic hardship; we are economically suffering individually and collectively. We need to crusade together in order to get out of this quagmire. We have observed over the years a number of ‘somehow efforts’ by the Government aimed at recovering the economy; however, there seems to be minimal results as given by spending contraction across the education sector.

“We are all together tired of being maladjusted to the current situation of mismatching earning vis a vis the cost of living. We are bearing resulting pains of signing for zero percentage salary increment by the union(s) for the three financial years 2018/2019 and including 2019/2020, 2020/2021 due to persistent drought and Covid-19 respectively, depicting the macroeconomic theoretical understanding.

“Moreover, the unhampered inflationary increase in prices of commodities has defeated and outperformed the motive behind settling for zero percentage salary increment. The signed agreement on zero salary increment is valid until 31 March 2021.

“The Regional Executive Committee is therefore hereby calling for NANTU structures in Ohangwena Region to organise meetings in order to discuss issues pertaining to the conditions of service including improved salary and fringe benefits for the next three financial years: 2021/22, 2022/23, and 2023/24.

“We shall compile a submission through our structures to Head Office for further engagement not later than 12 February 2021.”

[The rest of the issues raised in the communication will be reproduced in the next article.]

In the photo: Namibia National Teachers Union (NANTU)’s Ohangwena Regional Chairperson Mr George Hafilwa.