Retrenched fishermen reinstated

Final phase nearing completion

19 October 2020 | Fishing

Utoni Nujoma; Labour minister; “Government has availed 1 300 metric tons of hake for the process.”

Walvis Bay • [email protected]

The minister of labour, industrial relations and employment creation Utoni Nujoma hopes to have 1 100 fishermen, who lost their jobs during an illegal strike in 2015 as well as casual employees who have been retrenched over the years, reabsorbed by the fishing industry before 1 November when the hake season starts.

Nujoma said on Friday that the involved parties are hoping to finalise the process as soon as possible after lengthy negotiations with unions and fishing companies to facilitate the process.

The minister said that six fishing companies have agreed to employ the fishermen.

“Government has also availed 1 300 metric tons of hake for the process. We had a tripartite meeting with unions, workers representatives and companies, and I am confident we crossed an important milestone to absorb the workers into the sector.”

Daniel Imbili, president of Namibia Fishing Industries & Fishermen Worker’s Union (NFI & FWU) confirmed that the Cavema Group of Companies, Seaworks Fish Processors, Merlus Seafood and Hangana Seafood are on board to reabsorb the 1 100 fishermen.

“Tunacor Fishing has already reabsorbed 180 fishermen who were previously retrenched by Namsov. Some workers have already signed employment contracts with Cavema Fishing. The companies have also agreed to pay the employees’ salaries while they await for work [fishing vessels to sail out].”

Imbili said that if the fishermen give their cooperation, the sooner the process will be finalised.

"All unions, this includes us, Nasawu and Nafau have all agreed that this process needs to be finalised as soon as possible.”

The labour minister explained that the verification process for the retrenched fishermen was challenging due to people having replaced the names of genuine fishermen with those of their friends and relatives.

“This frustrated the progress and the workers who have been waiting to return to work and earn an income again. The Covid-19 pandemic also delayed the process.”

The reemployment process was divided into three groups: The retrenched Namsov employees; the 1 000 fishermen who lost their jobs participating in an illegal strike in 2015; and casuals who were working on various vessels.

Namsov was forced to retrench its workers after former fisheries minister Bernard Esau slashed their quota which subsequently led to the closure of the company.

In his industry address in December 2019, fisheries minister Albert Kawana gave the assurance that these employees would be reemployed as soon as possible.

Kawana said that he was given a directive by Cabinet to make sure that all those who lost their jobs, are reemployed as soon as possible.

“The more than 1 000 retrenched and fired fishermen have suffered enough. Nobody in Namibia must go hungry. The natural resources of this country must benefit all Namibians. According to Article 100 of the Namibian Constitution, the natural resources of Namibia belong to the state and they must benefit the people first.”

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