Lüderitz-More than 15 employees at Abalone Farming at Lüderitz held a peaceful demonstration last Wednesday and gave the company until the end of this week to address their grievances.
Abalone Farming, which employs 18 workers, has in the past few months seen instances of industrial unrest. In a petition read by Willem Kalola on behalf of the aggrieved workers, the workers stated that they have worked for two years without any salary increment.
The company has since been placed in provisional liquidation, administered by the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN).
The workers say the company did not give them any protective clothing over the past two years and that they do also not have any work-related benefits at Abalone Farming, as they do not even have a pension.
“The production of the company has progressed well and exports as usual, but the company tells us there is no money,” the workers wrote in their petition.
The company reportedly told the workers to give the firm six months to recover, but now the workers say the six months grace period is over and the company has not given them any feedback yet.
“We were given a notice that we will receive our retrenchment package at the end of November 2016, but up to now we did not receive anything. We heard that Hangana Sea Food is going to take over, but we do not know where Hangana is getting stuck,” the workers noted.
Abalone Farming workers demand that all parties involved in their dispute – the Office of the Labour Commissioner, the company itself and the trade union – set a date for an arbitration or conciliation hearing to resolve their dispute over wage negotiations as soon as possible.
They also demand that Abalone Farming to introduce a pension scheme with immediate effect. The workers further want feedback from the DBN on the company’s circumstances and from Hangana Seafood Group on progress in the takeover bid.
Abalone Farming’s human resources manager, Renate Erasmus, accepted the petition on behalf of the company but advised that on their side they cannot do much, as Abalone Farming is no longer in their hands, as DBN has transferred the company ownership to Hangana Seafood.
Abalone Farming was established by Rassie and Renate Erasmus in Lüderitz in 2002. It Is a land-based abalone farm, producing the Haliotis Midae species, better known as the ‘Cape Perlemoen’.
Abalone Farming’s Perlemoen is mainly exported to Hong Kong and China.