WALVIS BAY – About 400 fishermen, who were recently employed through a joint venture, are accusing the companies who employed them of cheap tactics to score quotas under the pretence of giving permanent employment.
The fishermen, who embarked on an illegal strike in 2015 that saw them losing their jobs, were given a new lease of life last year after a Cabinet directive ordered the fishing minister to facilitate their re-employment.
Cavema Fishing and subsidiary companies Camposatu, Vernier Investments and The Rainbow absorbed about 600 of the fishermen, paying them N$3 900 per month since November last year.
However, the fishermen took to the streets yesterday, saying they have been re-employed on fixed-term contracts, instead of permanent jobs as stipulated by the former fisheries minister Albert Kawana.
Backed by the Affirmative Repositioning labour wing, the fishermen said they do not receive any benefits, despite a 13 822 metric ton quota being allocated for their permanent employment.
Reading the petition on behalf of his fellow seamen, Samuel Kondo said Kawana made it clear the allocation is to preserve employment.
“We make reference to the letter written by former fisheries minister Albert Kawana, dated 24 July 2020. He makes specific reference that an allocation of 5 600 MT of freezer horse mackerel quota has been made to Camoposatu, 6330 MT of freezer hake quota, 500 MT of freezer hake quota to Rainbow Fishing as well another 1 792 MT of freezer hake quota, all as recommended by Cavema Fishing (Pty) Ltd joint venture. The above quota allocation was for purposes of ensuring permanent employment of 645 fishermen who [had] lost their employment,” Kondo said.
He added that this is contrary to the government directive and they are still left in the dark regarding the certainty of their employment status.
“We are still in the dark about our employment; some of us are engineers and earning a mere N$3 900, which is a slap in the face,” he said.
The fishermen then requested that the company responds to their grievance before 8 June or else they will approach legal practitioners and the high court for a permanent solution.
Receiving the petition, chairman of Cavema Robert Shimooshili said they will look into the claims at their earliest convenience. “There is a lot of discrepancies and misunderstanding but I am sure that we will achieve something if we meet around the table,” he said. He added they have the wellbeing of the fishermen at heart and will revert to them as soon as possible.
“We feel pity for you, seeing that you have been without jobs for so long and our aim is to look after you,” Shimooshili said.