Oceana's Hout Bay fishmeal factory. (Photo Credit: GroundUp/CC BY-ND 4.0)
Oceana pledges to avoid closing fishmeal plant
Thursday, November 05, 2015, 03:10 (GMT + 9)
Oceana reached an agreement with the Department of Labour through which it pledges to take measures so as to ensure its fishmeal factory, located in Hout Bay, will continue operating.
The firm’s executives explained that Oceana has not made a profit at that factory in the latest three years after deciding to reduce its fishing days from 120 to 60 in order to calm down a group of residents who were unhappy with the smell that the factory was producing when in operation, Fin24 reported.
"We’ve worked with labour, with national government and with local government to secure the future of the Hout Bay facility so that it can continue certainly for the coming five years," pointed out Oceana CEO Francois Kuttel.
The news was welcomed by Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) national fishing sector organiser Zolani Mbanjwa, who said they were celebrating the victory on behalf of the workers.
"We said we will fight and we will not relax until Oceana confirms that the company is not closing and not moving to St Helena Bay," Mbanjwa claimed.
In order to remain in operation, the firm’s executives managed to renew its lease with the Department of Public Works for five years and confirmed its atmospheric licence with local government.
In addition, as part of the deal, Oceana committed to paying the workers for two days a week if there is no fish and to increase that payment when there is fish.
It will also increase its 60-day target back up to 120 to return to profitability.
At the same time, the firm’s CEO pledge technology will be upgraded so that the smell can be eliminated while improving the production process.
In this regard, the group of Hout Bay residents, called Fresh Air for Hout Bay, who had laid official complaints about the odour emissions by the Oceana operation, explained that it had never supported the idea of the factory closing.
Instead, these residents considered that the odour must be eliminated, believing it “negatively impacts life in the community and does not contribute to creating a positive environment for anyone.”
“Oceana is in the business of opening new facilities, expanding operations locally and aboard, and creating new opportunities for employment – not closing plants down,” Kuttel concluded.