WALVIS BAY – The Namibia Fishing Industries and Fishermen Workers Union has denied being responsible for the resignation of over 600 fishermen, saying the Cavema joint venture breached the recognition agreement they had.
According to the union, the joint venture is at fault for terminating the employment of the fishermen without proper consultation with the union.
Secretary general of the union Leonard Armas yesterday told New Era the joint venture breached the recognition agreement.
“They violated the recognition agreement and sold pipe dreams to both government and the fishermen. Some of the fishermen were removed from the payroll without valid reasons, and they were also not paid allowances because they did not have letters indicating they were part of the 2015 strike,” he said.
The fishermen resigned in August, saying they want to do actual work, instead of getting an allowance of N$4 100 monthly.
The fishermen have been employed since last year by the joint venture, following a cabinet directive to re-employ over 1 100 fishermen in the industry as government’s intervention after they lost their jobs due to an illegal strike in 2015.
Kuiseb Fishing Enterprises, Hadago Fishing, Cavema Fishing, Rainbow Fishing, Vernier Investment and Camoposatu Investment employed the fishermen through the joint venture.
The fishermen were employed by the joint venture after cabinet in 2020 through a directive ordered by the fisheries ministry to facilitate their re-employment through an allocation of a quota.
According to the union, the companies did not honour their end of the agreement, as they never created sustainable jobs despite benefiting millions from the quotas given by government to employ the fishermen.
Their response comes after the joint venture accused the union of being behind the mass resignation.
According to Armas, they want their employees to be paid accordingly for September, while the fishermen employed on the horse mackerel quota should be paid until December.
“They did not communicate. They end employment, take employees off from the payroll and now decided not to remunerate these employees,” he said.
They are now calling upon both the fisheries and labour ministers to intervene.
The joint venture suggested that buying quotas directly from a government auction is less costly and were then asked to submit a list of names of those who wish to stay or resign from the joint venture.
Representative of the fishermen Godfried Kuhanga said in a statement over the weekend that their resignations came after the companies, through their union, were notified the objective quota they received from government is a burden.
“They suggested that buying quotas directly from a government auction is less costly – and informed us on 23 June that we must submit a list of names of those who wish to stay or resign from the joint venture. We acted as instructed by them, based on the options given to us: remain with their quota portion or terminate and return their portion to government,” he explained.
However, Kuhanga said the companies did not lose any revenue from their resignation, as they still enjoy the allocated quota by government and demanded they be paid until December when the agreement ends.
The joint venture, through their legal representative Richard Metcalfe, indicated on Friday that all the fishermen were employed on fixed-term contracts with a clear provision of one month’s notice of termination of employment upon the resignation of any such employees.
According to Metcalfe, the fishermen resigned with immediate effect, and thus owe the companies one month’s salaries due to their failure to provide 30 days’ notice.
“Simply put, these employees are no longer employed by my clients, nor does Kuhanga represent anyone employed by my clients,” the lawyer stated.
Metcalfe also told the union the joint venture will not negotiate with the 612 fishermen who resigned.