Remaining striking fishermen re-employed

15 June 2021 | Labour

LEANDREA LOUW

WALVIS BAY

The 290 fishermen who were fired after a strike more than five years ago are to be employed by Hangana Seafood.

An agreement to this effect was signed on Thursday between Hangana Seafood, the ministry of fisheries and marine resources as well as the ministry of labour, industrial relations and employment creation.

The workers will receive their first salary by the end of the month.

Hangana has started assessing the workers’ health status and skills to see where exactly they will fit in.

“This agreement shows that the industry, unions and the government can work together to create a better future for everyone. Currently, Hangana employs 1 451 people with the additional 290 employees. This brings it to a total of 1 741 – a workforce to reckon with. Our goal is to employ 2 000 people by 2025 and I believe we are on track,” said Herman Theron, Hangana’s managing director.

He explained that continued investment in the industry made it possible for the company to employ the 290 fishermen.

“Hangana is busy with the construction of a factory valued at N$360 million, which in turn will create more jobs. We’ve invested N$100 million in our abalone farm in Lüderitz and are building fish shops. We’ve also been diversifying our services in terms of offering jetty space to other companies in the industry as well as to build a new commercial cold store, which will also employ more people.”

Committed

Fisheries minister Derek Klazen said he committed himself to the re-employment of the unemployed fishermen when he was appointed.

“I am happy to end this saga of the unemployed fishermen today. We cannot have our people on the streets, with no food to put on the table. Hangana has shown that anything is possible,” he said.

According to Klazen, he and the labour minister had worked tirelessly to get the contracts ready.

“The allocation of fishing quotas is done for the year. I am giving the last that’s available to Hangana for the company to employ these workers. This agreement is automatically renewable if the company fulfils all conditions as stipulated in the agreement. If the company keeps our workers, we will continue giving them quotas.”

Klazen said he would engage other fishing companies during his visit to the harbour town. “This is to make sure that all industry players are on the same page in terms of benefits for the workers.”

Conditions met

Labour minister Utoni Nujoma said the agreement had been scrutinised intensively.

“We are pleased that all the basic conditions as stipulated in the Labour Act have been met, as well as the various international agreements that we have signed as a country,” Nujoma said.

He added that the issues the fishermen had been striking over were addressed in the new agreement.

“The employees must also take responsibility. We are living in a competitive world and cannot strike wildly without meeting the basic conditions of negotiations. There are procedures to be followed on how to handle these disputes. If you have opted to do things illegally, do not expected to be treated with gloves.”

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