At a press conference where he addressed NBC workers regarding the current industrial action, the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) Board Chairperson, Lazarus Jacobs, said that the entity might be compelled to release some of its workforces to the current financial situation. This comes after workers had demanded an increase of 8% in wages, increased transportation, accommodation, and medical aid allowances.
Jacobs responded to the demands by stressing that NBC cannot afford the increments demanded by the employees. He said that the N$127.5 million (US$ 8.5 million) subsidy from the government for the financial year 2020/21 would not be sufficient in sustaining jobs. He further highlighted that the current subsidy was cut by 62% from the 2019/20 financial year, which was at N$334.1 million (US$22.4 million).
Also to consider is the national broadcaster’s debt which is sitting at N$280 million (US$18.8 million), which leads the broadcaster to be unable to afford the requested increments, said the board. The majority of the debt involves N$253 million (US$16.9 million) from Pay As You Earn (PAYE) scheme, while N$27 million (US$1.8 million) involves trade payables and third parties.
According to the Board Chairperson, the broadcaster may not sustain salaries due to its debts; however, he empathised with the striking workers. Jacobs further emphasised that last year, the workers had received bonuses and an increment.
Director-General of NBC Stanley Similo said the entity has tried to bring down its debts with a payment amounting to N$16 million (US$1 million); however, due to accumulative interests, the debt has not come down. Similo also highlighted the company’s operational costs for FY20/21, which stand at N$386.2 million (US$25.9 million) with N$263.1 (US$17.6 million)/ 68% related to employment. The NBC board and management have asked the striking workers to avail themselves for negotiations on the entity’s survival.