KEETMANSHOOP – There appears to be no solution to the ongoing strike at NovaNam Fishing in Lüderitz as the company allegedly refuses to meet employees’ demands.
A total of 1 400 employees in the bargaining unit downed tools on November 27 demanding benefits such as housing allowances and bonuses.
They are also demanding permanent employment for the ‘temporary’ employees who have been working for the company for periods ranging between two and 13 years.
Two meetings held last Thursday and Friday between NovaNam and the Namibia Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Nafau) to try and reach some sort of agreement on the demands so that the strike could end, have failed.
Speaking to Nampa yesterday, Nafau branch organiser at Lüderitz, Jacob Penda, said no agreement had been reached as the company refuses to consider any of the demands. Penda said NovaNam did not provide reasons for their refusal, and management have allegedly even decided they will not appoint any employees permanently over the next three years.
“We are saying the company must give housing allowances and bonuses to all land and sea-going employees, because at the moment only some fishermen get N$500 bonuses every month,” he explained.
In previous negotiations, the company agreed to a housing allowance of N$150 for permanent land-based employees only, and not to employees working on contract. “We have accepted the N$150 housing allowance, but we demand that it should be given to everyone – sea-going, land-based, permanent as well as temporary employees,” Penda said. He said the union wants to ensure that all employees are treated equally.
“It appears to me that those who receive benefits and bonuses are close to the management,” he added.
The strike will thus continue until the workers’ demands are met, although it is not known whether the company will return to the negotiation table anytime soon as no arrangements have been made in this regard, the unionist stated.
Calls to NovaNam’s acting Human Resources Manager, Francis Kawana continuously went unanswered.