NovaNam employees strike

NovaNam employees strike
NovaNam employees strike

Africa-Press – Namibia. WORKERS of the NovaNam fish-processing factory at Lüderitz in the //Kharas region downed tools on Tuesday due to a dispute over salary increases.

The workers are demanding an increase of N$2 per hour, or at least N$1,50.

The company has offered them an increase of 60 cents per hour.

The workers held a demonstration in front of the company’s premises at the town. Willem Shipanga, a worker, said they are demanding fair wages and equality among the fishing houses participating in the fishing industry at Lüderitz.

He said NovaNam does not meet the needs of its workers, but enjoys the optimum services provided by its employees, enabling the company to post profits annually.

“What difference would 60 cents make to my housing, transport and food needs?” Shipanga asked.

The workers said the company should rather consider cutting on profits and reducing the salaries of executives to provide decent wages for lower-earning employees.

The workers also bemoaned the practice of employing people on a casual basis for more than five years.

About 1 500 workers of NovaNam have been employed on a casual basis for more than 10 years.

These are mostly workers at land-based operations. During last year’s wage negotiations, the company promised to permanently employ 25 employees on an annual basis, but this has reportedly not happened.

Last year NovaNam’s workers received an increment of N$1,50 per hour.

“This company and its management like to make false promises. Where are the workers who became permanent workers?” the workers asked.

Namibian Seaman and Allied Workers Union branch organiser for Lüderitz, Peter Shiyandja, yesterday said: “NovaNam employees are the lowest-paid employees at N$20,11 per hour for both permanent and casual workers.

“Out of a company of over 2 000 workers about 1 500 have been on a casual basis for between five and 12 years now, and we are saying no more.”

The union is also negotiating an increase in workers’ housing allowances, as employees currently receive N$315 per month.

The company has offered to make 33 workers permanent on an annual basis from next year.

NovaNam chief executive officer Edwin Kamatoto yesterday disputed the allegations that the company’s employees are the lowest paid, and said the number of workers employed on a casual basis is far below 1 000.

He said the allegations are baseless.

“Our employees receive a market-related salary, therefore they are not the lowest paid in the industry or at Lüderitz, and the employees on a casual basis could be just above 500, but I must verify that number,” Kamatoto said.

Negotiations are expected to continue next Wednesday.

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