Fish workers angered by MD no-show

Fish workers angered by MD no-show

THE Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) had to hand over a petition to the Governor of the Erongo Region yesterday as none of the managing directors of fishing companies turned up to receive it at a demonstration organised by the union.

The union said the MDs had been invited. More than 1 000 workers took part in the demonstration during their lunch hour to express concern over restructuring and possible job losses at several companies.A Swapo politician said at a Nafau mass meeting on Tuesday night that as many as 1 000 workers could lose their jobs.According to the demonstration organisers, Dr Abraham Iyambo, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, tried on Wednesday to persuade the union to call off the demonstration and to attend a meeting he had scheduled with the Hake Association of Namibian instead.”We decided to continue with the demonstration and to attend the meeting at 16h00 today,” said Elia Jonker, Vice President of Nafau.A union official told The Namibian late yesterday that the meeting was subsequently postponed to next week by the Minister.The protesters marched from their various factories carrying posters that caricatured managers with their fancy cars and cellphones.With their lunch boxes held tightly under their arms, the workers converged at the most centrally located factory, Etale Fishing, for the petition handover.The crowd became restless and impatient when none of the MDs pitched to accept the petition.They started pushing through the gates of Etale and the Police had to force them out and lock the gates.The chanting and calling for Silvanus Kathindi, MD of Etale, continued from behind the gates.Patrick Serogwe, Chairman of Nafau, decided to proceed and read out the petition to Samuel Nuuyoma, Governor of Erongo.Serogwe said the Nafau executive was going to meet last night to decide what action to take against the MDs for ignoring invitations to accept the petition.In the petition signed by Serogwe, he said workers were being targeted as companies addressed inefficiencies and strength of the Rand against the US dollar and Euro.The union demanded that no fishing quotas be allocated before the situation is sorted out, that the Hake Association should involve workers representatives, and that Government investigates the performance of the affected companies to determine what their losses have been because of the fluctuating exchange rate.They further demanded that no labour hire company be allowed to provide casual labourers to the companies, that a clear process of monitoring companies be put in place, and that “so called black empowerment” is not used as an excuse for the outsourcing of jobs at the expense of permanent workers.The union has given a five-day deadline for response to their demands.Manuel de Castro, Director of the Tunacor Group, yesterday told The Namibian that his company was not planning any restructuring or retrenchments.He has informed the President, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources and Nafau in writing of this.”I was very upset to see our name in the paper as we have already informed everybody that we are not contemplating retrenchments.We are just carrying on and hoping to get through the tough times”.Etale and Cadilu, two of the companies named by Nafau as planning retrenchments, have denied any such action.Hangana has not yet reacted to the claims.More than 1 000 workers took part in the demonstration during their lunch hour to express concern over restructuring and possible job losses at several companies. A Swapo politician said at a Nafau mass meeting on Tuesday night that as many as 1 000 workers could lose their jobs. According to the demonstration organisers, Dr Abraham Iyambo, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, tried on Wednesday to persuade the union to call off the demonstration and to attend a meeting he had scheduled with the Hake Association of Namibian instead. “We decided to continue with the demonstration and to attend the meeting at 16h00 today,” said Elia Jonker, Vice President of Nafau. A union official told The Namibian late yesterday that the meeting was subsequently postponed to next week by the Minister. The protesters marched from their various factories carrying posters that caricatured managers with their fancy cars and cellphones. With their lunch boxes held tightly under their arms, the workers converged at the most centrally located factory, Etale Fishing, for the petition handover. The crowd became restless and impatient when none of the MDs pitched to accept the petition. They started pushing through the gates of Etale and the Police had to force them out and lock the gates. The chanting and calling for Silvanus Kathindi, MD of Etale, continued from behind the gates. Patrick Serogwe, Chairman of Nafau, decided to proceed and read out the petition to Samuel Nuuyoma, Governor of Erongo. Serogwe said the Nafau executive was going to meet last night to decide what action to take against the MDs for ignoring invitations to accept the petition. In the petition signed by Serogwe, he said workers were being targeted as companies addressed inefficiencies and strength of the Rand against the US dollar and Euro. The union demanded that no fishing quotas be allocated before the situation is sorted out, that the Hake Association should involve workers representatives, and that Government investigates the performance of the affected companies to determine what their losses have been because of the fluctuating exchange rate. They further demanded that no labour hire company be allowed to provide casual labourers to the companies, that a clear process of monitoring companies be put in place, and that “so called black empowerment” is not used as an excuse for the outsourcing of jobs at the expense of permanent workers. The union has given a five-day deadline for response to their demands. Manuel de Castro, Director of the Tunacor Group, yesterday told The Namibian that his company was not planning any restructuring or retrenchments. He has informed the President, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources and Nafau in writing of this. “I was very upset to see our name in the paper as we have already informed everybody that we are not contemplating retrenchments. We are just carrying on and hoping to get through the tough times”. Etale and Cadilu, two of the companies named by Nafau as planning retrenchments, have denied any such action. Hangana has not yet reacted to the claims.

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