Venaani raises concerns over employment redress programme in fishing industry

Official opposition leader McHenry Venaani has issued questions to fisheries and marine resources minister Derek Klazen on the effectiveness of the Government Employment Redress Programme (Gerp) in the fisheries sector.

Venaani issued a notice to question the minister in parliament on 14 March to seek clarity on various aspects of the programme’s implementation and its impact on unemployed fishermen.

In 2020, the fisheries ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, launched the Gerp, aimed at addressing unemployment among fishermen. However, concerns have arisen regarding the programme’s effectiveness and fairness.

Venaani wants to question the status of employment outcomes within the hake sector, as well as the monitoring and evaluation processes, to ensure the programme’s effectiveness and the criteria used for participant selection.

He further wants to question the sufficiency of allocated quotas to sustain fishing operations and the restrictive terms outlined in employment agreements.

“The terms and conditions outlined in the designated agreements are cause for concern, particularly clause 3.5, which stipulates that if an employee resigns, retires or passes away, the position must not be filled by another fisherman, and the quota will be reduced accordingly. How and why are companies expected to operate under such restrictive terms?”

Last week, Iyaloo Women Investment Group (Pty) Ltd, one of the fishing companies that received a quota to employ 235 Okapare Ex-Striking Fishermen, offered them the option to resign.

This is after the fishermen, who are still waiting to go to sea, refused to offload containers and load the cargo into trucks four weeks ago.

Iyaloo Women Investment Group in 2023 received 1 880 tonnes of hake freezer quota as a hake fishing right holder from the fisheries ministry, as an incentive to employ the 235 employees on a full-time basis.

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