Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Derek Klazen says the Government Employment Redress Programme will be renegotiated to find a solution for fishermen to do active work on vessels.

At a media conference, Klazen and Labour Minister Utoni Nujoma revealed the outcome of their closed-door meeting held at Walvis Bay on Thursday.

Launched in 2020, the programme stems from an agreement between the Fisheries and Labour Ministries and fishing companies.

The initiative secured about 2500 jobs for fishermen and women who, for various reasons, have lost their employment.

Some employed in the first phase complained about the conditions of their contracts, and that resulted in mass resignations.

This prompted the ministries to change strategy in the second phase by inviting fishing companies for an open bid.

Seven companies were chosen to employ the fishermen on the condition that some were employed on vessels, factories, or given any other related work.

Despite this arrangement, another wave of mass resignations was reported in February, while numerous petitions were handed over to the government.

The two ministers involved held a closed-door meeting on Thursday to listen to the fishermen.

"Why many people are so upset is that when you go out on the boat to work, your salary is plus or minus N$16,000, but if you are not on the boat and you are home, your salary is N$4,000 to N$5,000. What we realised is that for the majority of these fishermen that we engaged yesterday, in Namibia, we don't have enough boats for them to go to sea. This means companies can charter the boats, but the quota the ministry is giving them is not enough. So in short, we, as the two ministries and our staff, need to go back to the drawing table, look into what we have, our findings from this meeting, sit down with the companies again, and re-negotiate with them because we cannot live with this situation that is currently on the table and the unhappiness of the workers," says Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Derek Klazen.

Labour Minister Utoni Nujoma stressed that some of the fishermen lost their jobs in 2015 because of a strike. 

When the companies replaced them, he says, that resulted in a more limited job market.

"We need to go back to the drawing board and re-look at the issue, probably we will have to look at the companies that have more fishing boats available and probably also consider them. If we had the resources, we would solve this problem overnight if the resources were adequate, but now the challenge is that we don't have the resources, the TAC is limited, and GRN cannot sacrifice the scientists recommendations. That is why we are looking for the best possible way. But one thing I must reaffirm is that the ex-striking workers must realise that the government has met them halfway and that the government cannot continue to be held at ransom. We need to continue to find a way out."

Photo Credits
nbc Digital News


Renate Rengura