WALVIS BAY – Desperate employees of Seaflower Pelagic Processing plant at Walvis Bay on Wednesday appealed to President Hage Geingob to intervene and save their jobs by ordering the minister of fisheries, Albert Kawana, to reinstate their quota, so they can have their jobs back.
Seaflower employs about 655, who all lost their jobs after their quota was slashed earlier this year by the fisheries minister.
The plant was established in 2017 as a joint venture between the government-owned National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) and African Selection Fishing.
According to a notice, published in the Government Gazette of 15 May 2017, the ministry of fisheries had guaranteed the company 50 000 tonnes of pelagic fish species for 15 years.
However, employees were notified on 1 June on plans to retrench them after the quota was slashed.
Employees this week said they are deeply disappointed the government stopped giving the company an additional quota.
The plant received 50 000 tonnes last year. However, it only received 16 660 and another 5 000 this year, despite the agreement they should receive the full quota.
“We are on the streets, without an income; our families and children are suffering. Most of us were also paying for our studies. We all dreamt of becoming successful one day but our dreams are shattered now that we lost our jobs,” said Mathew Simasiku, the shop steward representing the 655 employees.
Simasiku explained most of them are between 23 and 35 years old, and that their jobs enabled them to be self-reliant and provide for their families but are currently facing a bleak future, as some of them were already evicted from their rental properties due to non-payment.
“As a result, we are faced with discrimination and stigmatisation from the society in Walvis Bay, merely because we are employees of Seaflower Pelagic Processing and do not have jobs. The situation will soon force young females to become sex workers and young men will resort to crime just do feed their families,” he said. Regional branch coordinator for the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) Johannes Shayuka also appealed to government and the fisheries minister not to turn his back on the employees, as it will only add to the current unemployment situation of the country. “We want the minister to look at the situation at hand and give the outstanding fishing quota to the company to secure the jobs and the livelihoods of the employees. Let the law deal with those who have been implicated in the fishrot scandal. The employees should not suffer because of that,” he said.
He added that 440 new jobs were supposed to be created through the company’s new canning factory project, so it is important government preserve existing jobs and create new ones, instead of putting more people on the streets. –firstname.lastname@example.org