… we are tired – Kahiriri
Secretary-general of the Namibia Football Players Union (NAFPU), Olsen Kahiriri, yesterday confirmed that the union has resolved to take the Namibia Football Association (NFA) to the Labour Court, citing “arrogance and dirty tactics” from the side of the NFA as two of the reasons that led to their action.
In a brief but quite lucid interview with New Era Sport yesterday, the outspoken Kahiriri said they have decided to drag the NFA to the Labour Court for refusing to acknowledge and cooperate with NAFPU as the sole bargaining agent for Namibian footballers. They are expected to appear in court tomorrow.
Despite the NFA having officially recognised the union in 2012 as the only bargaining agent for footballers under the NFA’s jurisdiction, Kahiriri still feels that the NFA is not genuine in their cause to accept NAFPU as a partner in football.
In another separate interview with the Namibia Press Agency (Nampa), the NAFPU front man is also quoted as having said: “In a notice of arbitration hearing, we have stated that NAFPU was recognised by the NFA on 01 April 2010 as an official representative of footballers who fall under the jurisdiction of the NFA, but it was on condition that NAFPU first holds an elective congress within the next six months. Elections were held within the stipulated time frame.”
He is further quoted: “On 29 October 2012, NAFPU was eventually recognised by the NFA as the only bargaining agent for footballers under the NFA’s jurisdiction.”
In 2014, the union says, it was given membership status by the NFA’s executive committee meeting which allowed the union representatives, among others, to vote at NFA organised events.
What irks Kahiriri so much is what he terms the NFA’s “arrogance and dirty tactics” when it comes to engaging NAFPU on issues affecting the players’ well-being, and football in general.
“I have personally written tons of letters to the NFA seeking an audience with my equivalent (Barry Rukoro) to discuss issues of mutual concern, but all my efforts were to no avail. I don’t know if it’s arrogance or their maybe playing dirty tactics, but we are getting tired of this. If my letters don’t reach their office then they should inform me, or if my English is bad they should also inform me so that I can retype them and send them again, but to just receive a letter and sit there in silence is pure arrogance,” charged Kahiriri.
Another issue that forced NAFPU to drag the NFA to court is the association’s failure to establish a Player’s Status Committee and a Dispute Resolution Chamber as per international football regulations.
The players’ representatives further request the NFA to establish regulations that protect contractual stability and pay due respect to mandatory international laws enshrined in FIFA regulations.
Currently, and shamefully so, the NFA does not have a Player’s Status Committee or a Dispute Resolution Chamber in place.
“If that’s how they want to play the game, then we are ready to go the extra mile in making sure the dignity of footballers is restored. We cannot have a football association, a public institution for that matter, to become a law unto itself to an extent where they have the powers to look down upon other vital football stakeholders such as NAFPU. The NFA’s decision to sideline us leaves NAFPU with no option but to seek reprieve with the courts.”
Kahiriri said NAFPU was now asking the court to direct the NFA to respect and uphold the recognition of the union as an exclusive bargaining agent under the jurisdiction of NFA.
Speaking to Nampa, NFA president Frans Mbidi acknowledged that the football body had been summoned to appear before the Labour Court. “Unfortunately, as an association, our policy does not allow us to comment on issues that are before a court of law. We will comment after the court proceedings,” said Mbidi.