WALVIS BAY - Hangana Seafood has awarded compensation worth N$1.2 million to 150 seamen, backdated from February 1, 2017 to January 1, 2019 in the company’s quest to provide better working conditions for its employees, especially those at sea.
The payout will be based on per trip catch per vessel, the company said. Apart from that Hangana also reviewed employment and benefits of seamen to international requirements.
This means its seamen will also receive a fish commission based on the tonnage per catch, and be paid three hours extra for every seven days at sea on top of their commission and regular wages.
Thousands of seamen, in a bid for better working conditions in the fishing industry, went on an illegal strike nearly three years ago, accusing the fishing industry of exploiting them and breaking the law when it comes to wages, overtime and general benefits.
The strike, instead of having the desired outcome had far-reaching financial implications not only for the seamen but for the entire fishing industry. It also resulted in massive job losses among the seamen as only a fraction of those who went on strike could successfully negotiate their jobs back through their union.
Managing director of Hangana Seafood, Herman Theron, said that the agreement will remain in force and that Hangana and the Namibian Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) will in future only negotiate on salary increment. “This particular development is indeed a milestone for the fishing industry and Hangana, but for us mostly is the fact that we could amicably, after lengthy consultations, come to an agreement beneficial to both parties,” he said.
He added that they were in fact headed for the arbitration court, however both parties knew that only one will win hence both parties decided that the matter should be resolved between them.
Hangana also signed a wage agreement that will see its entire workforce receiving an 8 percent salary increase each year for the next three years. Apart from that 263 people that were employed on a flexible basis will now be permanently employed by the company.
According to Theron, the decision to employ them permanently came after it was proven that their quota was indeed sufficient enough to make them permanent employees.
Hangana employs about 1 500 people and is one of the few companies in the fishing sector that provides housing allowance, medical aid and transport to its employees.
Nafau general secretary Jacob Penda said that he is indeed happy to see that Hangana had the interest of its workers at heart, which in turn can serve as motivation to their employees.