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Namibian Broadcasting Corporation workers down tools

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The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC)’s workers demand that NBC reverse the strict measures saying that they have caused unnecessary stress and panic to workers.

More than 30 employees staged a demonstration under the Namibian Public Workers Union (Napwu).

During the demonstration, NBC shop-steward Kephas Hembapu handed over a petition for the Board’s attention at the broadcaster’s headquarters in Windhoek, which was received by NBC human resources manager Vezenga Kauraisa.

The employees have given management 14 days to respond to their requests.

“It is disheartening to note that the board of NBC considers retrenchment as an option to reduce costs during this period of high rates of unemployment in the country. The announcement of the austerity measures has caused unnecessary panic and stress to workers and has also destroyed the beautiful image of the NBC,” said Hembapu.

The employees also demanded that all those on contract be offered permanent jobs.

Hembapu said there are over 150 contract workers at the national broadcaster.

“Some of the contract workers have been on contract for more than seven years, which is unlawful. The union demands that NBC gets rid of the one-month contracts, and employ all contractors permanently,” he added.

This request comes after the announcement by NBC two weeks ago that 156 jobs would be on the line due to dwindling funding from the government.

The shop-steward accused NBC managers of going on unnecessary trips for S&T, despite dwindling finances.

“NBC continues to outsource the responsibilities of employees and spends unnecessary funds on independent contractors. Top management payroll outsourcing is costly, unnecessary and questionable,” he continued.

According to Hembapu, favouritism, discrimination, nepotism and tribalism are ongoing concerns at the NBC.

“The above issues convince us that there is maladministration at the NBC, and we therefore declare a vote of no confidence in the NBC board and management as they have condoned these issues for a long time,” the unionist read.

Two weeks ago, NBC chairperson Sven Thieme, to whom the petition was addressed, announced that not only will 156 jobs be on the line, but that remaining staff employment agreements would also be renegotiated to cut costs.

The national broadcaster has since slashed its 24-hour shift to just operate between 07h00 and 21h00, whilst also cutting out indigenous languages’ news bulletins immediately.

According to Thieme, an injection of N$290 million is needed for this current financial year to keep the company afloat.

He had also threatened that national elections in November might be affected in terms of coverage should no help come from the government.

Institute for Public Policy and Research’s Dietrich Remmert concluded in a study titled “Namibia’s Media: facing the digital challenge” that the broadcast media has weathered the digital disruption, but that warning signs are still there.

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