Union mushrooming bad for workers – Jauch

Too many cooks spoil the broth

09 March 2021 | Labour



The proliferation of new trade unions could disadvantage workers in the long run due to the fragmentation that could emerge as each movement scrambles for a piece of the pie, labour expert Herbert Jauch warns.

With over 40 trade unions already in existence, representing between 100 000 and 150 000 workers, Jauch fears that adding more unions to the equation might not be the best solution in the fight against labour exploitation.

According to official data from the labour ministry, there were 14 applications for new trade unions seeking recognition in 2020.

Namibia had 41 registered trade unions at the end of last year.

“It is very strange to have so many applications in one year, especially considering that we already have so many active unions. It can only mean two things: either the workers are dissatisfied with the existing unions, or some individuals are looking to make money from this,” Jauch said in a telephonic interview yesterday.

He said the fragmentation of unions plays right into the hands of unscrupulous employers who will use the division to advance their own agendas.

“What we need is fewer and stronger unions that effectively address the plight of the workers. Unions must be worker-centred and rooted in the ideals of workers,” he advised.

The ministry's data shows it handled 5 952 labour disputes in 2020, nearly 32% more than the previous year. As in 2019, the ministry managed to resolve about half of the disputes through conciliation and arbitration.

A total of 3 070 new labour cases were also referred to and processed by the ministry in 2020, about 57% of which materialised in the last two quarters of the year. In 2019, a total of 3 303 new cases were pursued by the ministry.