Africa-Press – Namibia. THE Namibia Media Professionals Union (Nampu) and other media unions have called on president Hage Geingob to intervene and resolve the protracted industrial action at the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC).
Nampu’s secretary general Sakeus Iikela, in a letter to Geingob on Monday, said the protracted labour standoff at NBC needs to be resolved urgently, as it has far-reaching consequences.The consequences, Iikela said, include the deprivation of crucial information to the public, “especially in rural areas where the masses solely depend on NBC (radio) as a source of information”.He added that the public, especially, is being denied access to information when they need it most.Iikela’s appeal comes just after the celebration of the World Press Freedom Day from 29 April to 3 May, whose theme ironically was “Information as a Public Good”. NBC failed to broadcast the celebrations because of the ongoing strike.Foreign unions representing journalists, such as the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), unions from Somalia, India and Italy, have expressed solidarity with NBC workers and supported Iikela’s appeal.NBC employees downed tools on 22 April following failed negotiations between management and the union representing the workers. They are demanding better working conditions, salaries and benefits and the permanent employment of nearly 150 workers who have been on monthly contracts for up to seven years.Iikela appealed to the president to intervene and find a lasting and sustainable solution for both parties, and for the benefit of the public “who are now wallowing in a morass of lack of information because of this strike”.The solution, Iikela said, should consider the protection of jobs and the sustainability of the public broadcaster.Despite complaining about the insufficient government subsidy of N$127 million allocated to NBC this year, the union leader advised the president not to throw public money at NBC blindly in its current setup.He proposed that the president consider commissioning an operational, performance and skills audit to inform the restructuring of the NBC.Iikela also called on the president to consider transforming NBC into a truly public broadcaster “as opposed to a government mouthpiece” to fulfil its mandate.Anthony Belanger, the secretary general of the IFJ, also wrote to Geingob requesting his intervention in the NBC impasse.“We agree with Nampu, as NBC’s sole shareholder your government should immediately intervene and find a swift solution for both parties,” the IFJ statement said.