Namibian fishing vessel at Walvis Bay. (Photo Credit: heimsnet)
Court ruling favours 12 Namibian fishing companies suing striking fishermen
Thursday, December 10, 2015, 03:10 (GMT + 9)
Twelve fishing companies that had sued their employees for having been on strike since the end of October in Walvis Bay and Lüderitz were granted a Labour Court interdict against the striking fishermen, two trade unions and two trade unionists.
As a result of the Court ruling, the 823 employees who were accused of engaging in the unlawful strike by the 12 companies -- Hangana Seafood (Pty) Ltd, Overberg Fishing (Pty) Ltd, Rainbow Trawling (Pty) Ltd, Ekikimbo Trawling (Pty) Ltd, Embwiinda (Pty) Ltd, Tunacor Fisheries Ltd, Corvima Fishing Company (Pty) Ltd, Beluga Fishing (Pty) Ltd, Novanam Ltd, Seaflower Whitefish Corporation Ltd, Seacope Freezer Fishing (Pty) Ltd and Benguela Sea Products (Pty) Ltd. -- are not allowed to incite or encourage any of the companies' employees to take part in the strike, The Namibian informed.
Among the respondents in the matter at Court were The Mining, Metal, Maritime and Construction (MMMC) Union, the Namibia National Labour Organisation (NANLO), the Office of the Labour Commissioner and over 1,000 striking fishermen.
In their defense, these employees denied that their refusal to work is unlawful and highlighted that the issue is related to their working hours.
The striking fishermen proved to be unwilling to return to their fishing vessels until a number of issues pertaining to their conditions of employment and wages are resolved.
According to court documents they are sometimes required to work 18 hours uninterrupted and their legal representative compared their working conditions to "slave labour".
MMMC Union’s Immanuel Petrus said that even if the court ruled in favour of the fishing companies, they would still not go back to work if compliance orders were not given to their employers, NamibianSun reported.
The unionist insisted that although it is reported that the strike is illegal, the workers are guided by the rule of law that no one should be treated like a slave.
On the other hand, Court documents showed that Novanam Human Resources Manager, Francis Kawana, said in his court affidavit that he rejected claims that the fishing commission paid to fishermen was unfair.
Kawana explained the fishing commission is paid for the quantity of fish landed of the required quality and standard. It is also paid to compensate employees for work performed in excess of the maximum hours, as envisioned by the Labour Act.
“This practise is in line with what happens internationally in the fishing industry. In fact, there is no other recognised fishing nation in the world where seagoing employees are specifically paid for overtime or night work,” he said.
Kawana clarified that although the workers may be on fishing vessels for 24 hours, it may be that for most of the time they are actually doing nothing.
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