The National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) has no funds to host its elective congress.
The Swapo-linked workers’ federation last held an elective congress in 2015, where Ismael Kasuto was elected president. NUNW acting president Phillip Munenguni told The Namibian last week that the congress is planned for November, if NUNW can find the funds.
“The NUNW generates funds from membership, but as of current, most of our affiliate members have experienced a loss of members during the Covid-19 pandemic, and many could not even pay 5% to the federation,” he said.
He declined to divulge which affiliates are paid up.
Affiliates to the NUNW are the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (Manwu), Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu), Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN), Namibia Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Natau), Namibia National Teachers Union (Nantu), Namibia Domestic and Allied Workers (Ndawu), Namibia Farmworkers Union (Nafwu), Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) and the Namibian Financial Institutions Union (Nafinu).
Last month, The Namibian reported that NUNW and Nafau could not account for a combined N$38 million in membership fees. Munenguni said the federation is funded by members’ unions that are supposed to pay 10% of their income to the NUNW annually. “Only the larger affiliates are able to pay their affiliation fees, but this issue comes from before Covid-19, and back then only a few were struggling, but now more are struggling.
But we expected them to pay their 10% as usual because it affects the number of delegates that they can send to the congress,” he said.
Munenguni said NUNW is working with all affiliates to ensure that they pay their dues.
He implored affiliates to ensure their books are in order and in compliance with the Office of the Labour Commissioner.
“We have taken a resolution in our last executive meeting in July that all our affiliate unions should put their books in order, and we have requested our bigger affiliates to assist the smaller ones that might need assistance with accounting,” he said.
According to Munenguni, the financial challenges faced by NUNW date back to before the pandemic.
A 2016 external audit report by Saunderson and Co accounting firm could not confirm the determination of affiliation fees for Manwu, Napwu, Natau, Nantu, Nafwu, Nafau and Nafinu.
The fees could not be determined without these unions’ records.
The report indicated that only MUN was in good standing.
At the time, the accounting firm recommended that the affiliate unions submit their membership database, how much each member was contributing, and how much their employers were remitting to the unions.
It was also recommended that the affiliate unions submit financial reconciliations that are prepared by an accountant and that are properly prepared and recorded in a ledger. “In the absence of a database, NUNW can obtain the final total membership fees incomes of the sub-unions at the end of the financial year and recalculate the l0% total affiliation fees.
This can then be reconciled with the receipts to determine the total fees for the year and what is owed at year-end by each sub-union.
Management must ensure that the general ledger and trial balance are reviewed to detect errors and omissions,” recommended the accountants. This non-payment of fees also led to the NUNW not honouring its affiliation with international bodies such as the Southern Africa Trade Union Coordination Council, Organisation of African Trade Union Unity and International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.
The accountants noted that the non-payment of debt could create a serious reputational risk for NUNW in the country and could result in the termination of its affiliation with international bodies.
In 2017, MUN took NUNW and the non-paying affiliated unions to court to have the affiliated unions pay their dues.
MUN also wanted NUNW to ensure that other affiliate unions were in good standing in no more than three months in arrears.
Come November, Munenguni is optimistic that most of the affiliate unions will have paid up their membership fees in order to attend the congress.
The issue of non-payment by affiliates was also raised by former NUNW president Kasuto in 2017, which led to his dismissal by the affiliates that were not in good standing.
Last December, Rossing branch of MUN chairperson Stanslaus Imbondi wrote a letter to the Erongo Regional chairperson, seen by The Namibian, in which he requested a review of the region’s relationship with NUNW.
“We, MUN, cannot continue to pay our affiliation fees, yet get dominated by affiliates that are not in good standing and those not paying at all. We need guidance on the way forward at our next elective MUN congress,” said Imbondi.
At the time, the Rossing branch also demanded that MUN pay Kasuto’s legal fees in a case against NUNW.