Namibia: Kawana Promises Jobs for Retrenched Fishermen

12 December 2019

BETWEEN 500 and 700 workers who lost their jobs after Namsov Fishing at Walvis Bay closed last year, are expected to be re-employed.

This was the assurance given by acting fisheries minister Albert Kawana to hundreds of fisheries sector stakeholders at a meeting held at the harbour town yesterday.

He, however, did not specify the period during which the fishermen will be re-employed.

The welfare of fishermen was one of the issues discussed.

Kawana said he had been directed by president Hage Geingob to coordinate with Erongo governor Cleophas Mutjavikua and the unions through the ministry of labour "to make sure that those workers who were retrenched, especially those from Namsov, get their jobs back".

"We have a job to do to make sure that these fishermen go back to work as soon as possible," he stated.

"They have suffered enough. The time has come for them to have bread on their table.

The announcement comes a day after a mass anti-corruption march at Walvis Bay, where the suffering of the fishermen, factory workers and their families were highlighted.

According to the Namibian Fishermen United Association's Mathew Lungameni, the rights of about 900 fishermen who were retrenched and unfairly dismissed were violated through the corruption scandal.

He explained that the fishermen, mostly from Namsov, have been trying in vain to get the attention of former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau and former justice minister Sacky Shanghala to intervene on their behalf.

Lungameni said the fishermen lost their jobs because their companies did not get enough quota support to survive, which ultimately led to less work, and then closure. According to him, 25 fishermen died either through illness, stress or suicide as a result.

Tucna president Paulus Hango said the unions, together with the fishing industry and ministry of labour, were compiling a report which highlights the working conditions of fisheries workers, which is hoped to attract enough attention to bring about an improvement. The industry employs about 16 000 people.

The president of the Namibia Fishing Industries and Fishermen Workers Union, Daniel Imbili, said his union had approached the former fisheries minister on the concerns around Namsov, but their pleas had fallen on deaf ears. He asked that Namsov be reopened, and the workers get their jobs back.

Mike Karupu of the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union called on Kawana to have mercy on those workers who lost their jobs - even those who lost their jobs due to an illegal strike.

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