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Windhoek City Council faces labour suit

THE Public Service Union of Namibia (PSUN) is threatening to register a case against the City of Windhoek with the Labour Commissioner for not paying their platoon officers and sub-officers outstanding remunerations.

This was announced in a press briefing by the union’s secretary general, Matthew Haakuria, giving the municipality 12 days to respond to their demands.

According to Haakuria, in 2012, firefighting staff at the Windhoek City Council, who are attached to the emergency and disaster risk management division, applied for advertised positions of platoon officers and sub-officers.

“However, to their disappointment, they were placed at minimum and lower grade of their respective salary grades. After the job review of 2014, it was realised they are wrongly placed, which resulted in underpayment, and had to be rectified,” he added.

Haakuria said PSUN discovered that some supervisors are paid less than their subordinates due to this irregularity.

“We are giving them up to the end of this month to respond or else we will take action. Failure to do so, we will register a case with the Labour Commission,” he said.

He added that since 2012, the employees have been fighting to be placed on the correct salary scales in their respective grades and to be paid their lost earnings.

“For the last 10 years, they have been sent from one office to another with no solution insight.

He said the workers were told to follow procedures in raising their complaints despite the known fact that the available policy guidelines do not cater for this type of dispute.

Haakuria intervened in the matter last year and was also told to follow procedures.

According to PSUN, the affected employees have earned lower salaries, which has negatively affected the growth value of their pension over the years.

“They lost out on potential income from overtime payment due to reduced salaries. There was no progression in terms of salary notches in the services rendered to the City of Windhoek.

“The anomalies do not end here, as there are similar cases at the waste management division where a number of staff members were identified to act in supervisory positions without being remunerated despite policy provisions to that effect,” he said.

Haakuria said employees are told they acted voluntarily, therefore, they cannot be remunerated.

“The Ministry of Urban and Rural Development is squarely to blame for this mess,” he said.

One of the affected employees, a platoon officer at the Windhoek City Council, Mushupi Thimoteus, said when he applied for his position, he realised that his salary was not the same as his co-workers at the same rank.

Thimoteus also spoke on behalf of all the affected employees.

“We are not happy and we are looking forward to a positive outcome. They owe us about N$8 million, but the figure has been changing with time,” he said.

According to the Windhoek City Council spokesperson, Harold Akweenye, the council resolved to pay the outstanding remuneration.

“However, an agreement has to be reached between the city and the officers on the repayment [period]. Whether the repayment will be over five, four, three… months.

“Most importantly, an agreement that also needs to be reached between the two parties is either to pay retrospectively for three months, as approved by council, or 12 months as per the demands of the officers,” he added.

Akwenye added that payments will be effected as agreed upon.

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