Eveline de Klerk
WALVIS BAY – A group of fishermen, who were employed by ArticNam on the Heinaste vessel, will seek relief from the High Court this week in an attempt to recoup monies owed to them by the fishing company. This follows after the company failed to meet the deadline to pay the N$1.8 million settlement awarded against them in the Walvis Bay labour court on 24 June.
Unionist Phillip Munenguni, who represented the 23 fishermen yesterday confirmed the latest development, saying they initially wanted to file last week but were told to come back this week. The payment was supposed to be settled on or before 30 July. However, Munenguni yesterday said no one from ArticNam has reached out to discuss any possible payment plan regarding the settlement.
“That is why we want to file and compel them to pay the fishermen what is due to them,” Munenguni said. ArticNam is a joint venture between Icelandic partners, Samherji and three Namibian joint venture companies: Sinco Fishing, Yukor Fishing and Epango Fishing.
The Namibian shareholders held 51% shares in ArcticNam, which employed 107 people, including the 23 fishermen. The fishermen lost their jobs in 2019 when the company replaced them with temporary workers who were employed for about 10 months. They were also not offered severance packages. As a result, the crew members approached the labour court to hold ArcticNam accountable.
The vessel itself was impounded due to the ongoing Fishrot case but was later released by the prosecutor general and sold to Tunacor Fisheries early this year.
ArcticNam chairperson Virgilio De Sousa earlier told New Era they currently find themselves in a predicament where they are trying to hold their Icelandic partners accountable for discrepancies as well as the way they handled the company’s finances. “The company is dormant as we speak. They tried to liquidate it in 2019, but we were against the liquation and wanted to establish a forensic audit. They were bleeding us dry and it turns out that they were involved in the Fishrot scandal,” De Sousa said earlier.
Meanwhile, a media statement issued on 4 August by the directors of ArticNam claims they did not receive the notice for the labour arbitration hearing that was scheduled for 19 April at Walvis Bay.
“The Icelandic directors of ArcticNam Fishing (Pty) Ltd learned through the media of a default arbitration award that was given against the company on 24 June following complaints of unfair dismissal lodged by 23 employees of the company during 2019,” read the statement.
Left hanging… Some of the 23 fishermen were awarded a N$1.8 million settlement in the labour court.