Fishermen to legally challenge MoU


Walvis Bay

The Namibian National Labour Organisation (Nanlo) says they will legally challenge the terms of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed to address the specific working conditions of seamen.

The MoU was signed last week in Swakopmund between the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations, the Namibia Seamen and Allied Workers Union, Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union and the Namibia Fishing Industries and Fishermen Union following the illegal strike of 1 500 fishermen at Walvis Bay and Lüderitz that commenced on September 26 over unfavourable working conditions at sea.

The fishermen who are still on strike are members of the Metal, Mining, Maritime and Construction Union, which is an affiliate of Nanlo.

During a telephonic interview yesterday, unionist Evalistus Kaaronda said that Nanlo has been seeking legal advice on the MoU and currently busy with paper work to challenge the MoU.

“We cannot divulge too much of our plans but we are planning to challenge the MoU as it doesn’t respond to the seamen’s need. The only way we can do that is to invalidate its content as such by a court of law,” he said. He however could not say when exactly they would file the suit.

Kaaronda last week also said that fishing companies must swallow their pride, cut their losses and embrace workers to find a lasting solution to the industry’s problems.

Government through the labour ministry, after establishing and confirming violation of the labour law, made no effort to press for compliance, he said.

It instead bent over backwards to accommodate the continued violation of the Labour Act, he added.
“If the fishing industry had chosen like all employers to comply with the provisions of the law and paid its employees as required by law, none of these issues would have been raised. In effect, workers would have been at work this very moment,” said Kaaronda.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the seamen, Immanuel Petrus, said that none of the workers returned to work and they were still gathering in front of the Kuisebmond soccer stadium.

“We will hand over a petition on Thursday to the labour offices at Walvis Bay to show our discontent with the MoU. There is nothing new in it. The same conditions they mention in the MoU are the same we are currently working under. We will not stop until our demands for better working conditions are met and we are part of that process,” he explained.

President of the Fishing Industries & Fishermen Workers Union Daniel Imbili yesterday said they would not be negotiating for any seamen who resigned from the union but took part in the illegal strike.


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