Fish Factory Dispute Deadlocked

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK A meeting between the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) and the Fisheries Observer Agency (FOA) has failed to address the grievances raised by the 200 workers who have been on strike at the fish factory. Yesterday, Napwu’s Secretary General Petrus Nevonga said last Wednesday, the two parties failed to reach agreement, adding that the situation has reached a point where Government intervention is a must. Late last month, more than 200 workers from the FOA downed tools demanding the company takes a re-look at their salary packages and other issues. A meeting that was supposed to go for a day dragged on until Friday last week, as the two parties seemed to have different approaches to the situation. In response to the workers’ main demand for a salary increase, the board according to Nevonga decided to give zero percent increase but offered the 13th cheque. Sea-going workers qualify for a certain allowance, apart from their fixed salaries that range from N$1 500 to N$1 700. However, should one be unable to work for a day, it means zero allowance. Based on that, the firm decided to give 11 days guarantee, meaning whether a person works or not due to certain circumstances, she or he will still qualify for the allowance. Previously, when workers came from sea, there was no transport provided by the company. At the meeting, it was agreed by both parties that workers should be transported to their homes as it was sometimes risky for them to look for transport particularly at night. Despite the proposals, workers remain on strike as they feel their main problem of salary increase has not been addressed at all. “After the Wednesday meeting, we went to brief the workers and they rejected whatever the board said. An emergency board meeting was called but then the board presented a letter to the union indicating that it would not reverse its decision,” stated Nevonga. The secretary general disagrees with the approach being used by the board and he indicated that it would have been proper if the board had called for a meeting where the two parties could have discussions together. Employees at the company have, apart from low salaries, complained of negative attitudes where superiors have an autocratic approach towards their subordinates.