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Seven trade unions deregistered

Written by on May 6, 2024

Seven trade unions and one employers’ organisation were deregistered by the labour commissioner on Friday.

This after they failed to submit their annual returns to the labour commissioner.

Namibia currently has 47 registered trade unions and 17 registered employers’ organisations.

The deregistered trade unions are the Namibia Building Workers Union, the Namibia Fishing Industry and Fishermen Workers Union, the Namibia Fuel and Allied Workers Union, the Namibia Cabin Crew Union and the Namibia Security Guards and Watchmen’s Union, the Union for Institutional and Household Employees of Namibia and the Namibia Truck Drivers Union.

Out of the 17 registered employers’ organisations, only the Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (Nabta) was deregistered.

In a media release on Friday, acting labour commissioner Emma Nikanor said action was taken against the unions and employers’ organisation for neglecting their statutory obligations as outlined in the Labour Act.

“According to the Labour Act, registered trade unions and employers’ organisations are required to submit their annual returns to the labour commissioner within six months after the end of their financial years,” she said.

Nikanor said some registered labour entities have not complied with this requirement, prompting the labour commissioner to issue stern warnings to them late last year.

“Despite repeated reminders, a significant number of entities failed to submit the required annual returns. Consequently, the labour commissioner was compelled to cancel the registrations of non-compliant entities,” she said.

The labour commissioner last year issued a directive requiring the submission of outstanding annual returns with a strict deadline of 30 November 2023.

Annual returns must be accompanied by a statement of income and expenditure for the relevant year, a balance sheet reflecting the financial position at year-end and an annual audit report, prepared by a registered public accountant and auditor approved by the labour commissioner.


Labour expert Herbert Jauch says the matter of unions being deregistered because of an unwillingness to be held accountable is of serious concern.

He says the number is too high and it is not the first time trade unions are not willing to submit their annual returns to the labour commissioner.

“Last year, there was the same thing of trade unions and employers not wanting to submit their annual returns. This type of act leads to members quitting the union and looking for other alternatives. Unions are crucial for workers’ democracy,” Jauch says.

He says the future of some unions can be cut short due to a lack of accountability and compliance with statutory obligations.
Jauch says workers and employers need strong unions with strong accountability.

“If a union is doing that, it will grow,” he says.


Responding to the deregistration notice, Nabta spokesperson Pendapala Nakathingo last week said the association has received it and will approach the ministry this week.

He said the notice, however, may be an administrative error from the Office of the Labour Commissioner, since the association has submitted its position on its submission delays as well as congress outcomes.

“We are acknowledging that Nabta was facing some financial difficulties and the government, through the Ministry of Works and Transport, tried to resolve the issue by having meetings with us, senior officials from the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, from the transport ministry and from the Office of the Labour Commissioner.

“Resolutions were given at this meeting, where we were told to have an elective congress on 30 June 2023,” Nakathingo said.

He said although Nabta is registered with the Office of the Labour Commissioner, it operates under the transport ministry.

“We all know that the transport industry is facing many issues. We are not funded by the state, we survive on membership fees, but many members are not paying their membership fees, so we are surviving through other means.

“That means we cannot get a registered auditor to check our books,” he said.

“That means we have been deregistered due to financial problems. We have to restart. But we have submitted our congress outcome to the labour commissioner, however, we did not receive any response from their office apart from the deregistration notice,” Nakathingo said.


As Namibia joined the rest of the world in celebrating Workers Day last week, many unionists feel the country’s current financial status is tough on workers, which requires more radical measures.

Among them are the National Union of Retail Industry Workers of Namibia, fronted by investment scheme operator turned activist Michael Amushelelo, as well as the Namibia Media Professionals Union (Nampu), fronted by journalist Jemima Beukes, and the Affirmative Repositioning-affiliated Revolutionary Union.

Speaking to The Namibian last week, Amushelelo said many workers have lost faith in unions due to “sellout unions”.

“However, thanks to the introduction of the National Union of Retail Industry Workers of Namibia, as well as the Namibia Security Workers Union, of which I am the president, workers are regaining their faith and trust in unions once more,” he claimed.

Amushelelo said a big challenge for unions is the “weaponisation” of the courts to grant companies interdicts to prevent unions from representing workers.

“Thus far, we have been interdicted by Namib Mills and Namica Supermarket CC, where we have members who need our representation due to the exploitation of workers,” he said.

The post Seven trade unions deregistered appeared first on The Namibian.

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