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Fishermen resign again

2024-03-04  Eveline de Klerk

Fishermen resign again

WALVIS BAY - At least 255 fishermen employed by the Iyaloo Women’s Investment Group through the Government Employment Redress Programme tendered their resignations last month.

Dissatisfaction among the fishermen led to their refusal to adhere to certain work directives, marking the second wave of resignations due to job-related issues. Annastasia Helao confirmed the mass resignations on behalf of the company last week, stating that the matter had been brought to the attention of the fisheries ministry.

“Yes, they indeed resigned, and we are currently in consultations with the parties as well as the ministry,” she said.

The hake sector had been allocated eight metric tonnes of hake for each fisherman employed, totalling 5 448 metric tonnes for the sector last year after the fisheries ministry called for interested companies to provide jobs for them. This was expected to be the last government intervention in the challenges faced by fishermen, who went on an illegal strike in 2015.

However, the group resigned once again, asserting that they were fishermen, not fish factory workers.

According to a letter obtained by New Era, the fishermen expressed their willingness to work at sea, as promised by the fisheries ministry and the Iyaloo Women’s Investment Group (Pty) Ltd.

“We want to make it clear that we are not refusing employment, if it is to go and work at sea, as promised to us,” clarified Godfried Kuhonga in the letter, indicating that none of the fishermen who signed the document were forced to do so.

In response, the legal representative of the fishing company, Richard Metcalfe, highlighted the company’s position, emphasising that the fishermen had signed contracts agreeing to various tasks, including fish-processing and factory maintenance. Metcalfe noted that
demands to work exclusively on fishing vessels were not aligned with the terms of employment.

He clarified that the company had obtained hake freezer quotas as part of a government incentive to employ individuals affected by previous strikes.

“The company obtained 1 880 tonnes of a hake freezer quota as an incentive to employ 235 employees on a full-time basis, who had lost their employment due to illegal strike action in 2015. These employees have been in the employ of our client since 1 December 2023,” Metcalfe said.

A statement from the fishing company said the fishermen signed contracts of employment, agreeing to the processing of fish, the operation of equipment to process fish, the loading and unloading of fish products, the cleaning of the factory and work stations, and to provide services related to employment offered by the company.

“The company is now confronted with demands for workers to be placed on fishing vessels, and a refusal to do any work if it is not on fishing vessels. The company has also been informed that the employees listed resign to obtain employment at Walu Fishing Investments,” the letter reads.

They now suspect that the employees are being misguided by persons – some of whom are not even employees – who have personal agendas and ulterior motives. According to the company, employees who did not sign this list will remain their employees.


2024-03-04  Eveline de Klerk

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