WALVIS BAY - Employees of Gendev Fishing and Princess Brand are facing a bleak future as 1 300 workers are on the verge of losing their jobs.
The two fishing companies process wet-landed horse mackerel, however, they have been grappling to stay afloat due to the low catches and high operational costs currently experienced by the sector.
They now want the fisheries ministry to allow their company vessels to catch at least 50 metres within the 200-metre restricted zone before they lose their jobs. Employees yesterday, as the last attempt, petitioned the fisheries and labour ministries as well as the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations at Walvis Bay.
The workers said they are barely making ends meet as their vessels sometimes come back with only 100 tons, which is simply not enough to cover fuel costs or pay staff.
They now want the two ministries to come up with an intervention plan that will prevent further job losses in the fishing industry.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Silas Petrus said they want decent jobs and it can only happen with the intervention of the two ministries.
“We don’t want to be part of the unemployed masses. We want to work so that we can take care of ourselves and our loved ones. Honourable Utoni Nujoma, how will you feel if these 1 300 employees are laid off? All that we are asking for is decent jobs like all the other employees in the fishing industry with benefits such as housing, pension and medical aid,” he appealed.
Aina Nampweya from Gendev also questioned the fisheries ministry on behalf of her fellow workers, saying they are being overlooked by the ministry.
“What crime did we commit that our companies are struggling?” she asked.
She then pleaded with the ministry to allow their companies to fish within the 200-metre restricted zone.
“We are appealing to our minister to put politics aside and find solutions for our situation before we end up on the streets too. How long should we suffer like this? How will we feed our families, pay rent, and survive if there’s nothing? There is no hope to continue working in this corrupted industry,” she lamented.
Meanwhile, the chairperson of the CNFA, Matti Amukwa refused to accept the petition from the employees, saying that Princess and Gendev are not members of the association; hence he cannot address their issues. He last week strongly objected to the possibility of fishing within the 200-metre restricted zone, as horse mackerel is shoaling there at certain times of the year.
“Research shows that 20 000 tons of the monk biomass are found in water depths of between 100 to 300 metres, which is 56% of the total stock,” he said.
Head of administration for the labour ministry, Magano Nakapala said she would forward the workers’ request to the relevant authorities.