Walvis Bay — Coastal unions are calling upon the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to join forces to come up with a unified remuneration structure for the fishing industry.
The union members New Era spoke to last week also said that all unions representing workers in the fishing industry must propose a salary structure and push for its implementation to protect workers.
According to the Namibia Fishing Industries and Fishermen Workers Union (NFI & FWU) leader, Daniel Imbili, it is high time that lawmakers and the Employment Equity Commission (EEC) take interest in the salary structure of employees in the fishing sector.
"We need to speak with one voice and see to it that this idea materialises," said Imbili. Imbili expressed concern over increasing labour unrest, especially in the Erongo Region and said the fishing industry is one of the richest and oldest economic contributors in the country, "yet government has failed to come up with a salary structure for the fishing industry, especially for those employees who are receiving the poorest wages."
Imbili further explained that such structures are already in place for security guards, domestic, farm and construction workers, and added that he cannot understand why the fishing industry is left out. He said government should also consider putting aside a fishing quota for the fishing sector itself that would assist employees who are retrenched.
"The proceeds of the quota must be managed by a trust with specific guidelines attached to it. One such guideline should be that an employee would be assisted for at least three month or so after retrenchment," he stressed.
"We need to find a solution to address issues affecting the general workers in the fishing industry. These workers are the backbone of the industry and urgent intervention is needed by all stakeholders to uplift their social wellbeing," Imbili said.
According to the Namibian Seaman and Allied Workers Union (NASAWU) leader, Paulus Hango, all stakeholders must really take a closer look at the salary scale of fishing industry workers and impose a minimum wage as is the case in other industries.
Hango explained that a unified salary structure would eliminate issues such as salary and employment benefit cuts by companies, and workers would be better protected. According to him the current unhappiness over low wages does not only exist in the fishing industry, but is affecting many categories of workers across the nation.
"Union leaders and the various line ministers, including the labour commissioner, must really sit down and look into the issue of the fishing industry, before we face renewed nationwide labour unrest," Hango warned.