29 January 2013

Namibia: Etale Workers Down Tools

Walvis Bay — The dust refuses to settle around Etale Fishing Company as close to 200 employees staged a peaceful demonstration yesterday morning at Walvis Bay to protest a 50 percent salary cut Etale plans for its workers.

The striking workers also fear being retrenched as the company reportedly once again faces financial difficulties. The affected employees include fishermen who downed tools last week Friday, questioning operations of the company which allegedly plans to cut factory workers and fishermen's wages while administration employees remain unaffected.

The protestors yesterday handed a petition to the managing director of Etale Fishing Company Wilenchia Uiras cataloguing their grievances.

It is said that at least 700 factory workers will be affected by the salary cuts.

According to the shop steward, Tangeni Shidute, Etale Fishing Company last week informed the protesting workers about the envisaged salary cuts.

"For the last two months we have received only half of our salaries - however, this has been a practice at Etale since 2010 that our salaries are cut. Worse even is that 70 percent of the employees are on a 'no work no pay system,'" he said.

Employees further said the company is directionless and that they - the employees - are left in the dark when it comes to the company's financial status.

"We are demanding the shareholders of Etale - Ozohi, Ehangana and Ompangona companies - shed light on our employment situation. We do not know how the company spends the money we are generating, nor do we receive decent salaries. None of us has received bonuses for the past seven years from the company," Shidute fumed.

"If the company retrenches workers, the fishing rights holders and owners of the quotas must employ all 700 workers," he further explained.

"Many companies promise employment to Namibians under false pretences so that government gives them fishing quotas and fishing rights.

"Some of these promises never materialise as many individuals are abusing the system to enrich themselves," bemoaned Shidute.

"We strongly condemn this type of enrichment which is widening the gap between the rich and poor. We demand that the company gives us feedback," he said. Upon receiving the petition Uiras said the company "cannot respond at this stage" but will give feedback to the employees in due course.

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