Labour Minister Utoni Nujoma and Fisheries Minister Derek Klazen convened a closed-door meeting at Walvis Bay to answer fishermen's continuous concerns.

The fishermen are employed under the Government Employment Redress Programme, created to give jobs to hundreds of fishermen who were dismissed for participating in a strike nine years ago.

The fishermen have handed over numerous petitions expressing dissatisfaction with the redress programme, while mass resignations were reported in the past.

Some have complained about being placed in the factory rather than on fishing vessels, where they used to earn more money.

The last mass resignation was in February when 255 fishermen at Iyaloo Women's Investment Group threw in the towel and refused to adhere to work directives.

In December last year, the government, under the redress programme, allocated close to 1,900 metric tonnes of hake quotas to Iyaloo to employ the group.

"So, if the people that are now employed are not happy, it is our duty to come and listen in a constructive dialogue. We would like to hear from you today because we have received numerous petitions. We want to hear from you about the solutions because if we keep on going with dissatisfaction among ourselves and a lack of consultation, it will not help us. So bear in mind that we have a limited resource that is declining against the backdrop of high unemployment in this country. So you must remember that there are other fishermen still seated at home without any work," said Nujoma.

Klazen added, "Me and Minister Utoni, we work together with this committee, and we convey their messages to you, but we thought it's time; let me see you also. Let us see you and not just the committee, I also think that you wanted to see us and some of you wanted to talk to us, but that is how this meeting is happening now, and then we asked the company to come and listen. Yes, we have the documents here and the petitions." 

After complaints and mass resignations were recorded during the first phase of the redress programme, the government invited interested fishing companies to pitch their proposals on how they could accommodate more workers if given quotas.

This resulted in the allocation of 5,400 metric tonnes in the hake sector last year to employ the fishermen.

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NBC Digital News


Renate Rengura