TUJOROMAJO KASUTO

DESPITE the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) informing the Namibia Public Workers’ Union (Napwu) that they had been stripped of bargaining rights at the state broadcaster, the union’s Secretary General, Petrus Nevonga, is adamant that the status quo remains.

“Our bargaining power is in force and we have not lost that at NBC,” says Nevonga refuting claims that the Union had lost 50 percent of its members at the broadcaster. “How authentic is the claim that the union has lost 50 percent of its members?” he asks.

NBC Spokesperson, Umbi Karuaihe-Upi, says the broadcaster and Napwu signed a confidential agreement in 2010, stipulating the terms and conditions of members resigning from the Union after employees at the broadcaster complained about the 1% deduction from their salaries as union subscriptions, which allegedly total about N$50 000.

According to Karuaihe-Upi the union has not acknowledged the resignation of its members and NBC continues to deduct the 1% contribution from employees’ salaries.

“Napwu also has a constitution with its own rules and they are the only ones who can clarify when their members are released from their register, “she says. Two months after the strike at NBC when Napwu, allegedly abandoned the employees and more than half of the members resigned from the Union, resulting in the alleged loss of its 51 plus one bargaining status.

NBC Director General, Stanley Similo, wrote to Nevonga informing the Union that it had lost its bargaining status on June 21, 2021.

“This letter serves to inform you that Napwu no longer holds the 51% plus 1 majority to qualify as the exclusive bargaining unit. Your union membership as of 1 June 2021 is 45,5%,” the letter had stated. The letter further stated that any case “during the life of the agreement the union fails to represent the majority of staff members in the bargaining unit, the NBC may give the union notice in prescribed form to acquire a majority within three months; and if the union fails to do so at the expiry of the three months, the NBC shall be entitled to withdraw the recognition of the union and in that event this agreement shall cease to be force and effect.”

The NBC board in May announced that it had struck an agreement with Napwu to bring the strike at the national broadcaster at that time to an end after meeting on 25 May, 2021, and agreed terms which led to calling off the strike and subsequently cancelling a court case, which Napwu had lodged.

The industrial action, which started on 22 April, and had majority of the broadcaster’s services taken off air,S ended after Napwu signed an agreement with the NBC board and senior management.