12 September 2018

Namibia: Abalone Farmworkers Demand Answers

WORKERS of the recently launched Hangana Abalone Farm at Lüderitz have threatened to go on strike after a number of demands made to the company were not met.

Workers spoke to the media on the sidelines of the official launch of the aquaculture farm at Lüderitz last Friday.

The Ohlthaver & List Group, through their subsidiary Hangana Seafood, acquired the farm in 2016, and also inherited the more than 40 employees.

The workers, who declined to be named for fear of losing their jobs, said they had given the company until 7 September to meet their various demands. The employees asked Hangana Abalone for a N$5 500 basic salary across the board, N$500 housing allowance, N$700 transport allowance, a 13th cheque and a chemical operator allowance.

"We gave these demands on 18 May this year, and they told us they would give us an answer today [Friday, 7 September]. But here we are, and no answers yet," one of the workers told The Namibian.

The workers said that as much as they do not want to take industrial action, they are left with no option if their demands are not met.

"The farm is far from town, and Lüderitz is known for its harsh and cold wind. We are forced to walk in this wind," another worker lamented.

Acknowledging that the company provides them footwear, the workers said they also requested windbreakers, protective eyewear and lockers.

"We work with chemicals, so we should be given eyewear that will protect us from chemicals," said one of the workers who has been working at the farm for more than two years.

Hangana Seafood managing director Herman Theron told The Namibian yesterday that they were aware of the demands, and that they have met the workers' representatives.

"The company has agreed to meet and discuss the employees' demands during a site visit scheduled for September 2018," he explained.

He added that the company has already started putting certain measures in place.

"We have appointed all employees permanently on 1 February 2018," Theron said.

Furthermore, all permanent employees were given the benefit of a fixed basic salary, a housing allowance equal to 14% of the basic salary, a company contribution to a pension fund, and other insurance cover.

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