Geingob orders probe into fishing strike

04 Nov 2015 18:40pm
WINDHOEK, 04 NOV (NAMPA) – The deputy minister of fisheries is to lead investigations into allegations of poor wages and poor working conditions facing workers at various local fishing companies.
The decision to launch such an investigation was taken here on Wednesday when the leaders of over 1 200 disgruntled fishers addressed their grievances directly to President Hage Geingob; Prime Minister, Saara Kugongelwa-Amadhila; Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Chief Samuel Ankama; Minister of Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation (MLIREC), Erkki Nghimtina; Permanent Secretary in the MLIREC, Bro Mathew Shingwandja; Attorney-General, Sacky Shangala and advisors to the president during a meeting at State House.
More than 1 000 fishers from various companies at Walvis Bay and about 250 in Lüderitz downed tools last week Monday, demanding better salaries, overtime payment and medical care at sea amongst other demands, while threatening to camp at State House if their demands were not met. The fishers however did not camp in front of State House as planned.
After listening to their complaints, Geingob assured them that the matter will be attended to urgently.
“Leave it to us. The line ministries will follow it up. We cannot allow slavery to continue in a free country. We want companies who come here to obey our laws; they must come on our terms.
“If they don’t comply with our laws, we must take action, provided of course the complaints we receive are accurate,” the president stressed.
The strike is led by the Namibia National Labour Organisation (Nanlo) and affiliate Mining, Metal, Maritime and Construction (MMMC) Union.
Regional Coordinator of the MMMC, Immanuel Petrus told the president during the meeting that the Attorney-General had tagged the strike illegal, but what really triggered the strike was the intolerable working conditions at some of the fishing companies.
“The workers are tired; we don’t have professional medical doctors on board the vessels. Two years ago, some of our colleagues died. If you get sick on board a vessel that stays at sea for 45 days, you are told to wait until the vessel is full or wait for another vessel that passes by to take you in,” he explained.
The unionist also blamed the labour ministry for 'turning a blind eye' on the grievances of the workers.
“The ministry should really wake up. The permanent secretary and the labour commissioners should pull up their socks because numerous inspections were done at the companies. Even though they have found that the companies have violated the Namibian laws, they turn a blind eye and allow the situation to continue while they negotiate.”
Namibia National Labour Organisation (Nanlo) president, Evalistus Kaaronda was also present at the meeting.
Shingwandja said the line ministry will continue with the finalisation of the matter, and assured the unionist that hopefully by next week Tuesday or Wednesday, the Fishing Industry Commission may find an amicable solution and how the overtime will be paid as a standalone item.