Eveline de Klerk
Walvis Bay – Close to 500 disgruntled unemployed seamen congregated in front of the Kuisebmond stadium on Wednesday to bombard Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) president McHenry Venaani with questions on their plight.
During the meeting, held at Walvis Bay, frustrated former seafarers asked Venaani whether he had tried to seek an audience with the relevant authorities to address their jobless situation that has left them in destitution.
Venaani said he had approached the highest authority and was still waiting for a response, hence his return to express his solidarity with them.
Addressing the unhappy seamen, Venaani said he could not understand why the seamen were not allowed to return to their respective jobs, regardless of their having embarked on an illegal strike. “People all over the world, in countries such as Spain, France and South Africa have gone on illegal strikes, but none of them lost their jobs.
Look at the miners of Marikana in South Africa. They also went on an illegal strike and yet they returned to their respective jobs after that, with better working conditions. What makes the case of our seamen different? Their situation also needs to be resolved, hence we must find a way to address their plight.”
Venaani undertook not to rest until the seamen got their jobs back and said he would also approach the Office of the Ombudsman to find a solution for the seamen.
“We believe section 24 of the Labour Act is overlooked while it is a fact that people have their right to demand better working conditions. What is so wrong in wanting and standing up for that?”
He added that he would mobilize the unemployed masses along with the seamen and embark upon a mass protest in February next year as, according to him, the government does not have the interest of its people at heart, yet fish are being depleted due to large quotas and theft.
“The seamen will feature prominently during the protest. We will not leave it here – we will embark upon a mass demonstration in February next year with the seamen and the unemployed masses.”