ECN staff want permanent contracts, fair working conditions

By Rosalia David

ELECTORAL Commission of Namibia (ECN) employees affiliated to the Namibian Public Workers Union (NAPWU) handed over a petition yesterday to demand permanent positions and fair working conditions.

According to the petition delivered by NAPWU chairperson Joseph Nghiilwamo, ECN’s management has been exploiting and overlooking the interests of its workers since 2002, while some workers have not received employment contracts yet.

“ECN is a body that promotes and consolidates electoral democracy, yet you are practicing neo-colonial labour laws. We had no other option but resort to this action. There have been numerous submissions to management to look into our employment and wellness issues, [they] however failed.”

Nghiilwamo said that for the past 10 years ECN chairperson Notemba Tjipueja has been telling the employees that she is working on a structure, but has failed to deliver.

“Rumour has it that your proposed structure is rejected by the OPM because it’s a retirement plan for ECN management. They have composed a heavy structure, including 14 directors in the regions and we don’t need that! That is administration corruption. It is a waste of government money!”

Nghiilwamo went on to say that ECN employees’ contracts ranged from between six months to a year, depriving those workers of company benefits, such as medical aid, pension, housing allowance, study leave and overtime, which are provided for in terms of the public service rules.

“We are also much aggrieved by the distinction being made between contract/temporary and permanent staff members, despite the clear provisions of the Public Service Act that defines what a public servant is,” he said.

He further highlighted that contract/temporary employees make up the majority of workers employed by ECN and contribute widely to the success of elections conducted in the country.

According to the petition, after elections were successfully conducted in 2014, ECN employees were assured that their complaints were being dealt with internally, but they were only offered medical aid and overtime, ignoring the issue of the employment contract period.

“Five years later, other matters of concern have not yet been addressed, such as the finalisation of the structure and permanent appointment of contract employees. For the duration of our employment at ECN, we also had to endure favouritism, nepotism and unfair treatment between permanent and temporary employees and have witnessed and reported corruption.”

The workers gave the chairperson an ultimatum to respond in the next 14 days or they would resign en masse from the Commission with immediate effect, or take other practical and consequential actions, including approaching the Head of State and others.

The angry group of employees complained that Tjipueja was enjoying the benefits of being a permanent commissioner but refuses to prioritise their requests.

“Madam chair, since 2002 we found you here as a part time commissioner, today you are a full time employee enjoying everything in this position. You are having a black ministerial Mercedes Benz and a full time driver driving to Okahandja every day.”

Their petition was received by the Commission’s CEO, Theo Mujoro, on behalf of Tjipueja.