Labour expert Hebert Jauch says it is imperative for trade unions to engage with their members and workers' organisations.

This, he says, is a way of holding unions accountable and giving workers control. Hebert Jauch raised a concern about unions not engaging or knowing their members, let alone holding congresses since their inception. This, Jauch says, defeats the purpose of a union, questioning the relevance of non-performing and upcoming unions.

With about 45 unions registered, only one in five meet the requirements in terms of the Labour Act and hold congresses, while the rest of them leave their members in the dark.

"Inside the unions, the principle of worker control has been lost, but there is some bureaucracy with some unions. I wont mention the name, but there is a union in the public sector where the SG takes every decision and the members only get informed of the leader's decisions. That's not under the workers control. And when you run unions like that, you don't reach the most vulnerable workers."

He further stressed the need for union leadership to be accountable to their members.

"Do not behave like some political parties, where decisions are made and people have to accept them." It must be the opposite. You must have the right to tell the leaders, This is what we want; now go and represent us. and that is linked to collective decision-making."

Jauch was speaking at the Namibia Revolutionary Transport Union's inaugural congress yesterday.



Celma Ndhikwa