WALVIS BAY – About 655 fixed term workers will be laid off at the Walvis Bay-based Seaflower Pelagic Processing factory after government slashed the company’s quota by half.
The Seaflower Pelagic Processing plant was established in 2017 as a joint venture between the governemnt-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 yesterday said they are deeply disappointed that the government stopped giving the company an additional quota. “We understand that whole corruption issue that is in the news these days but why can’t the government, instead of stopping the quotas, just not take over the factory,” one of the affected workers, Victoria Paulus, reacted.
According to her retrenchment letter, her contract will not be extended after 30 June.
“As has been communicated to you at the general staff meeting held on 10 June 2020, the reason for termination is due to the non-availability of sufficient quota,” the termination letter states.
CEO of Seaflower Pelagic Processing Adolf Burger yesterday confirmed that the company was part of a cooperation agreement between Karasburg businessman AJ Louw and Fishcor.
“It was gazetted on 15 May 2017. It stipulates that Fishcor must buy the land and the investor must build the factory and employ about 700 people. That is all... those three things. The compensation of the above will be 50 000 tonnes quota for 15 years,” Burger explained.
He added that they received 50 000 tonnes last year. This year they received 16 660 and another 5 000 despite the agreement stating that they should receive the full quota.
“We were informed that it will be our last quota. We have two vessels and a factory that cost us N$12 million per month to maintain,” Burger said. According to Burger, there is confusion in terms of the two factories in which Fishcor has a stake. Fishcor owns only 40% of Seaflower Pelagic Processing, while it fully owns the Seaflower Whitefish Processing plant at Lüderitz.
“My boss is not foreign either. He built nine factories in Angola where he employs 2 000 people. On government’s request, he came to invest in Namibia,” Burger added.
The company started operating last year at its land-based N$530 million canning factory at Walvis Bay.
The Trade Union Congress of Namibia president, Paulus Hango, warned government not to consider such drastic measures, especially against a company they created.
“Those are their own employees. They created Seaflower and should stick to their agreement. We cannot afford to have so many more people on the streets especially now with Covid-19,” he said.
Eveline de Klerk
2020-06-25 09:09:44 | 17 days ago