Klazen: Government pivotal in stabilizing fisheries labour unrest
By Adolf Kaure.
The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Derek Klazen says the labour unrest that the country experienced some time back has stabilized, when he gave his annual fisheries address in Walvis Bay last Friday.
According to Klazen, this is due to deliberate policies introduced by government.
“Despite this government and the labour unions must work in unison to maintain peace and stability in the sector.”
“The government through a consultative process approved plans by the fishing operators to take up most of the workers that were retrenched a few years ago.”
“This shows the government’s commitment to fighting the unemployment situation in the country,” he stated in his industry address.
During the 2021 employment verification, the data indicated that 18,105 people are employed on fishing vessels and in land-based factories. Women make up the largest group with 8478 individuals or 64 % of employment in land-based factories.
Klazen acknowledged that there are a few outstanding labour issues. However, the minister promised that he intends to resolve them as soon as possible.
Also speaking at the address, the regional governor of Erongo, Neville Andre stated that there is room for improvement with regard to employment creation in the fisheries sector.
“Many fishermen still live in back yard shacks and we want companies to assist their workers with proper and decent accommodation.”
“Having said this I would like to call on municipalities to make available land to prospective fishing companies that wants to build houses for their staff,” said Andre.
He urged unions to advocate for workers’ rights when representing them.
The president of the Namibia Seaman and Allied Workers Union’s (NASAWU), Paulus Hango was adamant that the union has done its best to represent the workers in labour matters during the year.
“This year alone we negotiated and signed many agreements with some companies giving from 6% to 8% increments to the employees each year for the period of two years,” he said.
Some companies such as Seaworks, Embwinda Fishing, Seaflower White, NovaNam Limited and others signed two-year agreements with the union whereby many workers were employed as permanent employees last year. Other employees have been re-employed since 1 November on a permanent basis,” said Hango.
He added that apart from employing some workers on a permanent basis they were also able to receive other benefits like transport to and from work.
Other agreed conditions of employment included housing allowances benefit and bonuses which many companies have offered in October or will give in December.
“This negotiation was not easy, as it takes us some eleven months before we reach an agreement. We worked around the clock to negotiate for the better condition of employment of the workers.”
Hango urged employers to consider the cost of living which is getting higher for workers and that many of them cannot afford basic needs such as food, transport accommodation and school children needs.
“Employers in the fishing industry who ensure that compensation and benefits are attractive to keep morale high, [also] ensure that [their] employees know that the company values them and wants to acknowledge the work they do,” he quipped.
Many of the labour issues in the fishing industry came when thousands of fishermen were retrenched by their respective companies due to slashed fishing quotas.