More fishermen left jobless
17 March 2020 | Labour
Joseph Makanga, Nafau, “Join a union. It is your right...”
The 210 employees of the MV Saga and MV Geysir fishing vessels received their official retrenchment letters on Tuesday.
These employees were left jobless in February when both vessels departed from Namibian waters mere days apart.
The owner of the vessels, Samherji, said that Saga left for repairs in Spain, while Geysir went to fish in Mauritania.
The retrenchment package negotiation process started on 3 March and was concluded ten days later.
Joseph Makanga of the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) said the workers are being retrenched due to the discontinuance of fishing operations owing to lack of quota.
“We have negotiated in good faith on behalf of the workers. Basically the agreement entails that their notice will be paid at a rate of 1.5 months, severance at 1.5 weeks, two days of accrued leave per month, back pay to whom it is applicable, and a bonus of N$10 000 to every employee. They will also each receive a service certificate.”
Makanga said that the 33 Namibian employees currently on board the MV Geysir fishing in Mauritania will be subject to the same termination package when they return to Namibia.
The termination packages will be paid on or before 31 March, which is also the date that Saga Seafood will stop all its operations in Namibia.
“We’ve also agreed that should Saga Seafood recommence with operations in future, the retrenched employees and those who served the company the longest, would be considered for re-employment ahead of other candidates.”
It was also agreed that if the company’s vessel are chartered in Namibia, that retrenched workers be considered for employment on this vessel.
“Additionally, we agreed that the company would liaise with the union and shop stewards with regards to re-employment procedures.”
Makanga added that it was a challenge to negotiate with Saga Seafood, since Nafau and Saga did not have a recognised agreement, saying that at one point they had to approach the labour offices to provide them with the mandate to negotiate on behalf of the workers.
However, he encouraged employers to unionise.
“Join a union. It is your right, because then you will always have someone in your corner.”