NAFPU loses labour case against NPL

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Otniel Hembapu

Windhoek

In another disastrous legal upshot, the Namibia Football Players Union (NAFPU) was sent back to the drawing board by the Office of the Labour Commissioner after the union failed in its legal bid to force the Namibia Premier League (NPL) to recognise it as the exclusive bargaining agent for local footballers.

On Monday, arbitrator Alina Indombo of the Office of the Labour Commissioner – who was required to rule whether or not there is an employer/employee relationship between footballers and the NPL – strongly dismissed the matter with no cost in a ruling that the NPL bears no employee/employer relationship with footballers as players are contracted by individual clubs.

According to court papers seen by New Era Sport, Indombo said she failed to establish and understand why a registered trade union such as NAFPU would seek a recognition agreement with the NPL, which is not an employer of footballers.

As per the terms of the Labour Act 11 of 2007, NAFPU has no grounds to challenge or seek employee/employer relations with the NPL as the league is not an employer of footballers but merely an administrative body. Indombo said footballers sign contracts with individual clubs and hence the NPL can’t be held liable for players’ individual affairs or enter into a collective bargaining agreement with NAFPU.

In his submission, NAFPU secretary-general Olsen Kahiriri argued that their members (footballers) in general render services to the NPL and are economically dependent on the league’s monthly grants and that somewhat puts the NPL at the heart of the matter.

But respondent, NPL administrator Tovey Hoebeb, maintained that the NPL is not an employer of footballers in the country and does not sign contracts with players as players sign contracts with their individual clubs and not the league. The ruling was declared as final and binding on both parties.

Last year, NAFPU lost in the Labour Court against the Namibia Football Association (NFA) on the exact same grounds after the union took the NFA to court for their refusal to intervene in a dispute relating to outstanding players’ salaries, but the case was dismissed by Commissioner Nicolas Mouers, who ruled that NAFPU’s request to engage the NFA in relation to players’ outstanding wages was unprocedural and irregular.

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