Tunacor employees protest ‘maltreatment’

SPEAKING OUT … Tunacor employees on Monday protested against alleged unfair treatment by the company’s management.

TUNACOR employees on Monday demonstrated against the company’s management at Walvis Bay, saying they are being maltreated.

They claim they are being harassed and intimidated, and not allowed to be represented by their trade unions during disciplinary hearings.

The company allegedly also dismisses workers over minor issues.

“Our company has the highest rate of dismissal in the fishing industry. It dismissed at least three people per month between 2021 to 2022.

“They dismissed 94 employees last year, while 94 dismissed workers were employed at Seafresh, which operates at the company’s premises.

“About 16 employees who were dismissed were denied representation by the union. This is the only company in the fishing industry where workers are not allowed to be represented by trade unions.

“We call upon the directors to change the company policy, and allow workers to be represented by trade unions,” shop steward Mwaafa Labanus said.

The employees also complained that the company does not have a trust fund for its workers.

They thus demand for the company to establish a trust fund for the workers.

“Although our company is one of the oldest and biggest fishing companies, it never considers giving its workers any profit sharing, particularly when it makes profit.

“Other companies have a trust fund and reward their employees by sharing the profit. This approach encourages workers to work hard, and they feel they are part of the company.

“Our company requested us to make copies of our icentity documents and pay N$50 in 2021 with the purpose of establishing a fund, but nothing has happened since,” Labanus said.

The workers allegedly retire without payment for years of service.

They say in the past, workers were paid one week’s salary for every year they served at the company when they retire at the age of 60.

“Many employees who retire after working for more than 20 years leave the company without these benefits. Some of these workers always retire with nothing.

“The pension fund, which they receive, is very little and the pension does not help the employees when they retire.

“We request the company to pay the workers for the number of years they worked at the company if they retire,” Labanus said.
They want to be able to choose their own pension fund, she said.

“The company management always tries to either misinterpret the Labour Act or use any loophole to avoid paying the employees what is due to them,” she said.

The workers said they are confused as the company has two human resources offices.

They are asking the company to terminate the services of Seventy Seven, the labour consulting company currently handling their appeal hearings.

They also complain that the workforce is reduced, leaving them to work twice as hard.

They handed their petition to the company’s chief executive officer, Peuya Hitula, demanding to have their issues resolved within 10 working days.

“We have always been trying to improve the conditions of our workers. The company has many benefits for employees, including their salaries.

“Economic conditions have affected Tunacor to the extent that our operations are impacted. As management, we have done our best to keep the company afloat since Covid-19.

“The economic downturn that was caused by the war in Ukraine, involving that fuel prices increased tremendously, has also been a problem, but we are still standing firm.

“We have not let any employee go. We will do our best to maintain sustainable operations. We will look at the issues, and attend to them,” Hitula said.

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