Workers fight for supervisors

In a petition, the workers demanded that Embwinda Fishing reinstates the 21 factory supervisors as soon as possible.

23 September 2019 | Labour

Embwinda Fishing employees are on the warpath over the alleged unfair dismissal of 21 factory supervisors on 30 August.

They held a peaceful demonstration at the Walvis Bay factory this past Thursday and handed over a petition to the company's management.

Shop steward Julius Taapopi Hambo said the workers are unhappy with the manner in which the company is treating them.

“The company unfairly dismissed 21 supervisors on 30 August. These supervisors were accused… of not working on 18 August 2019, while there was no work for the factory workers,” Hambo said.

One of the dismissed supervisors, Victoria Ruben, explained they arrived at work on 18 August in casual clothes and were not wearing their protective gear.

“We were told to report at 08:00 and thought we might be receiving training, as this is not the time we usually start. On this day, we were told to start working. We questioned this decision, because we were not wearing any protective gear.

“We were dismissed when we raised this concern and carried on working, despite the clothing we were wearing. Usually we are dressed to protect ourselves from the cold of the factory. Due to the regular clothes we were wearing, some of the ladies even got infections from the cold,” Ruben said.

She explained that on 30 August, after completing nine hours of work, they received a letter saying they were dismissed, based on the incident that happened earlier in the month. “Why let us work the entire day, only to dismiss us? That's unfair!”

In the petition, the workers demanded that Embwinda Fishing reinstates the supervisors as soon as possible.

“It is the company's responsibility to provide safe working conditions for their employees. Aside from this, the management is also making use of forced labour practices. There are only a few workers in the factory, and we have to do the jobs of three people. When we complain we are accused of refusing to work,” the petition said.

“Embwinda does not create decent jobs. Workers on night shift are sometimes paid as little as N$1 000. The company is giving the impression that they have 1 200 employees, while in reality there are only a few workers. Many employees are recruited on a casual basis.

“Some of these workers have been working here for ten years, but are still employed as casuals. We demand that the company gives these workers permanent contracts.”

They also claimed that managing director Jose Reyero does not listen to Namibian workers when they have a problem, but always listens to the Spanish workers.

“It is high time that the shareholders investigate what is really happening at Embwinda Fishing. We are demanding that management negotiate in good faith with the union to resolve these issues, including wage negotiations, which have not yet been resolved.”

Reyero received the petition on behalf of Embwinda Fishing, but did not wish to comment.

Leandrea Louw

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