Namibia: Retrenched Fishermen to Be Re-Employed

About 1 100 fishermen who were retrenched from Namsov Fishing due to slashed quotas and striking illegally are expected to be back at work before the start of the hake season on 1 November.

The Cabinet has allocated a total allowable catch of 1 300 tonnes of hake last year for this purpose, and six companies have signed an agreement with the government to absorb the affected fishermen.

The companies are Tunacor Fishing, Hangana Seafood, Merlus Fishing, Corvima Fishing, Seaworks Fish Processors and Hodago Fishing.

Last week the minister of labour, industrial relations and employment creation, Utoni Nujoma, held consultative meetings with labour unions, representatives of the unemployed fishermen and the fishing sector to speed up the restoring of the fishermen's livelihoods.

Nujoma said the objective of the meetings was to identify and clear the bottleneck delaying the re-employment of the fishermen, which was also stalled by the Covid-19 pandemic.

At a media conference last week Friday, Nujoma said the biggest challenge was obtaining a true and representing list of affected fishermen.

"Unfortunately certain parties have manipulated and distorted the list, which saw the legitimate unemployed fishermen being replaced with friends and family that were not affected by the retrenchment process, or were not even working in the fishing industry. This has complicated the matter," he said.

He called on those deliberately stalling the process to immediately stop, saying the government will no longer tolerate the underhanded tactics as this not only frustrates the process, but also the workers, who have been waiting very long to see themselves back at work and their livelihoods restored.

Neville Andre, governor of the Erongo region, said the re-employment process would be conducted in accordance with the Cabinet directive which prioritises the retrenched Namsov Fishing employees, followed by those who went on an illegal strike, after which the rest would follow.

The governor said to the Labour Act should be respected at all times.

He said the process of absorbing the unemployed fishermen has been complex as it has become highly politicised.

"This further hampered the smooth coordination of the process as the representation of the workers became very difficult to distinguish and engage," said the governor.

Of the Namsov fishermen, 180 have recently been employed by Tunacor.

The government is also addressing matters involving more than 655 employees of Seaflower Pelagic Processing, who on 30 September found themselves on the street as a result of an ongoing battle between the company and its partner, the state-owned Fishcor.

Matheus Lungani, spokesperson of Namibian Fishermen United, says the allocated quota is too little and would only last until the end of December.

"We want these jobs to be permanent, not seasonal, that will not last. The government must give the quotas that were to be auctioned to fishing companies that are willing to take in the fishermen," he said.

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