Workers union president ‘dribbles’ fishermen

Walvis Bay fishermen formally represented by the Namibia Fishing Industries (NFI) union say they were not informed that the union was going to be deregistered and were shocked that the president registered another union on their ticket.

NFI former coordinator Sakeus Shikongo says he and the workers were shocked at a Trade Union Congress of Namibia (Tucna) congress at Walvis Bay on 31 April, when he was called aside by the Tucna president and informed that NFI cannot participate in the election at the congress, as they are not in compliance.

Earlier this year, seven trade unions and one employers’ organisation were deregistered by the labour commissioner, including NFI.

Daniel Imbili,

He says union president Daniel Imbili, who recruited him in 2020, did not tell him the union was in bad books.

Shikongo says he recently learnt that NFI was last audited in 2013.

He says Imbili went to register another union, Namibian Fishing Industries and Allied Workers Union (NAFIAWU), with an application letter that was written on 24 April and submitted to the labour commission.

Shikongo says NAFIAWU has 2 500 members and his name forms part of the structure, without his consent.

Imbili confirmed this to the Namibian, stating that it was advice given by the labour ministry.

“They gave us an option to change the name, so that when NFI gets deregistered we will then be able to change to the new name,” he says.

He, however, says they have made a U-turn on NAFIAWU, since it will take them six months to complete the registration process.

“That one is a no go at the moment, we are not entertaining it,” says Imbili.

He says NFI has approached auditors that will finish auditing their books in three months to enable them to re-register the union. The acting labour commissioner Kyllikki Sihlahla denies knowing NAFIAWU.

“This is news to me. All I know is that there were people I was supposed to meet today at 10h00 but I had already scheduled another meeting since I have never received their booking,” she says.

However, in a letter seen by The Namibian dated 30 April with her signature, Sihlahla confirmed the application made on 26 April on the subject matter.

Sakeus Shikongo

“The said application is under consideration and you will be informed of the outcome in due course,” the letter reads.

Meanwhile, Shikongo says the workers he represents and brought to NFI are unhappy and frustrated by the situation.

Shikongo says he has written a resignation letter to NFI and has given the president a settlement order to sort things out, which he has not complied with. “We have acquired things together; a car and a bank account, which I am a signatory to. I just thought we would have a gentleman’s agreement to settle all these,” he says. Imbili has accused Shikongo of tarnishing the union’s reputation.

“He will be held accountable. The account is with my personal assistant and she does the payments. With the car, we do not know what will happen,” he says.

He says Shikongo breached his contractual agreement as an employee who only made way to coordinate, represent the workers and recruit new members to the union. Imbili says Shikongo’s resignation is under scrutiny and they have sought legal advice since he has not put in a proper notice.

Labour expert Hebert Jauch describes the issue as a ‘tragic scenario’ for the workers who have been paying their money and kept the union running.

“This is absolutely unacceptable. Questions should be raised as to how accountable this union leader is,” he says.

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