Namibia: Hold Unions Accountable, Members Urged

Close-up aerial photo of Central Windhoek (file photo).
5 September 2018

MEMBERS of trade unions affiliated to the National Union of Namibian Workers must force their respective unions to pay the 10% affiliation fee for the unions' federation to survive, said NUNW secretary general Job Muniaro this week.

Muniaro said this in an interview with The Namibian on what should be done about non-compliant unions.

All affiliates of the NUNW are required by the federation's constitution to pay 10% of their total monthly income to the umbrella union.

However, most of the affiliates have not been complying with this requirement, with only three consistently paying their dues over recent years.

The NUNW's draft financial report for 2017, seen by The Namibian, shows that it was owed about N$550 000 by eight of its ten affiliates for 2017.

The majority (6) of the unions have not paid anything to the federation this year, while some have outstanding contributions from as far back as 2014, amounting to over N$460 000.

The NUNW is in a serious financial crunch, to the extent that it is struggling to pay employees and bills on time. Recently, the federation appeared in the Labour Court over the late payment of salaries and the suspension of employee benefits.

Muniaro explained that the shortage of funds was largely attributed to the late and non-payment of affiliation fees by affiliate unions.

He, however, said that the federation had no mandate to compel non-compliant unions to honour their constitutional obligation to pay the affiliation fee.

Muniaro added that this situation should be rectified by the members of the non-paying unions, and called on those members to hold them to account for the money deducted from their salaries.

"I am not mandated to go and verify the books of the unions, but their members have that right because they are the reason the unions exist. So, they must question the unions why they are not paying their affiliation fees," he stated.

"The NUNW cannot solve the problems at unions because they have their own constitutions and leaders. They must explain why they are not paying their constitutional obligations, and it is not for us to push them to do so. We must act as professionals and take our responsibilities seriously," he stressed.

Muniaro opined that workers also had the option of leaving mismanaged unions if they felt that their interests were no longer being catered for.

"Workers are protected by the Constitution, and they have the right to form or join any union of their choice to look after their interests," he said.

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