The country’s largest trade union federation, the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), has urged workers in the fishing sector to refrain from the ‘illegal’ strike currently underway at Walvis Bay.
NUNW secretary general Job Muniaro yesterday said workers should not allow themselves to be used for any illegal activities that might affect their lives and those of their families.
“Workers’ concerns are valid and have been adequately presented to employers for a solution. This should be looked at legally, economically and fairly,” said the unionist, adding that opportunities and challenges should be understood by all parties involved.
He said the workers need to see their way through complex problems and challenges procedurally and called on all employees in the fishing sector not to regard the strike as “business as usual”, but as a direct economic threat to the country.
“Empowerment of workers needs the understanding of successful workers and employers,” he said. He further urged employers to come around the table with the federation to discuss the matter and to come up with amicable solutions.
He also advised employers to speed up overtime payments, as workers have already worked those hours.
Nampa on Monday reported that close to 900 fishermen from various fishing companies in Walvis Bay downed tools, demanding better salaries and medical care at sea, amongst other demands.
According to the news agency, the workers held a peaceful demonstration led by the Namibia National Labour Organisation (Nanlo) on the same day and marched to the offices of different stakeholders, including the labour ministry and union offices.
Workers delivered petitions to the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, to the Namibia Seamen and Allied Workers’ Union (Nasawu), Namibia Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Nafau), the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations (CNFA), as well as Namibia Fishing Industries and Fisherman Workers’ Union (NFI).
In the petition delivered to the CNFA, the workers stated that their working conditions are bad and that they have been complaining about the same issues for the past three years, but nothing has changed.
They demand regular working hours and that overtime work be paid according to the labour law.
The ministry and the unions were expected to respond within 48 hours or the fishermen would not go back to work, they threatened.