Fired fishers waiting for Government

07 Feb 2017 10:10am
By Paulus Shiku
WALVIS BAY, 07 FEB (NAMPA) – “We will be here until Jesus comes if that is what it takes,” says fisherman Matheus Lungameni, who lost his job late 2015.
Lungameni is one of over 1 000 fishers who lost their jobs after illegal strikes at Walvis Bay and Luderitz in October that year.
About 600 of them have since been gathering at an open space next to the Kuisebmond Sports Stadium every morning to demand action from Government.
“We want Government to give us our jobs back and we will not go anywhere until that is done,” Lungameni, who is the group’s spokesperson, told Nampa on Monday.
The fishers, mostly men, downed tools and demanded an increase in their basic salary; an increase in the medical aid benefits; an increase in overtime; and an increase in housing allowance. However, they were fired when they did not end the strike.
About 200 others gave up the strike and returned to work early 2016.
Lungameni said after losing their jobs, they have suffered severely by losing property through repossession such as cars and houses. Those renting were evicted because they have no money.
He said they have no intention of searching for jobs.
“We will not give up, we know it is not easy but even the liberation struggle of this country which was long and bitter was achieved, so we remain strong.”
Lungameni said the Office of the Labour Commissioner is taking long on the unfair dismissal case they filed.
During the strike, Government through the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations and the trade unions suggested that they return to work before they lose their jobs.
They refused and were subsequently replaced by other workers.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation Bro-Matthew Shingwandja on Monday said Government told them already to return to work before it is too late.
“Now they are saying they are waiting for Government. To do what?”