Fishery observers threaten to strike

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WALVIS BAY – Staff from the troubled Fisheries Observer Agency (FOA) employed at Walvis Bay and Lüderitz have threatened to go on a strike this week to press for their annual salary increment and for the immediate implementation of the salary structure for the FOA.

This was revealed by FOA sources that visited New Era last week to express their disappointment with the fisheries observer agency.

Angry observers said they have not received any increment for this year and have lost faith in the management of the FAO.

“We have not received our annual increment as negotiations could not take place, and to make matters worse we are operating without board members as the term of the previous board of directors lapsed,” one FOA observer told New Era.

The observers jointly went on to say that they are also unhappy with the delay in the implementation of the FOA’s salary structure.

“We feel like orphans left on the sidewalk as nothing has been done to resolve our issues at hand,” one of the disappointed observers said.

A letter copied to New Era indicates that the now dissolved FOA board of directors, during a meeting held in August last year requested that the union representative of the observers grant them time until February this year to address challenges that were preventing the immediate implementation of the contentious salary structure.

“Time has lapseed and no one is coming back to us – it’s almost February 2014 again and nothing positive has come from negotiations this year, so what must we do. We also have families to feed,” onother explained.

The Namibian Public Workers Union (Napwu ) branch organiser for Erongo Sonny Ndalumbumo said he was unaware that FOA observers want to resort to an illegal strike to press with their demands for better wages. He however told New Era that it is an uphill battle to get around the table with FOA officials.

But he confirmed the observers have not received any wage increment this year as required by their agreement.

“The salary structure is also not yet implemented and it is really a major problem for the observers as they are the ones at the receiving end,” he said.

Contacted for comment the FOA CEO Hafeni Mungungu confirmed the observers have not yet received any wage increment due to some issues still under discussion, which he did not mention.

He could also not say when they would receive their increment.

The FOA employs about 170 observers at Walvis Bay and 60 in Lüderitz

FAO receives 60 percent of its annual budget from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and the rest of its revenue comes from fisheries observer levies.

FOA provides fisheries observers to accompany fishing vessels to sea to observe and record data on marine resources harvesting, the collection and recording of biological data on harvested species, and to collect samples of the harvested marine species.

FOA was established in 2002 to contribute towards sustainable utilisation of marine resources within the Namibian and international waters by providing an efficient and transparent service to all stakeholders through actively monitoring the compliance with marine legislation and the collection of relevant and reliable scientific data.  This is done through the placement of observers on vessels to ensure sustainable harvesting of Namibia’s marine resources.

By Eveline de Klerk

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