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Workers to feel the brunt of court decision

Workers to feel the brunt of court decision

Niël Terblanché

MORE than 1 100 jobs in the Namibian fishing industry will be lost after the Deputy Judge President of Namibia ruled that Seaflower Pelagic Processing (SPP) will not be granted an interdict to halt the sale of part of the total allowable catch on open auction.

 

In a statement issued by the fishing company in which the Namibian Government is heavily invested issued shortly after Judge Hosea Angula ruled against the application in the High Court, SPP said that under the circumstances it has no other alternative to but terminate 655 existing jobs and will also not proceed with the employment of 450 workers in its newly completed cannery.

 

“It is placed on record that in desperation to protect the fate of the 655 employees, SPP has also applied for quotas in terms of the public auction. To date, SPP has not received a response from the ministry about its bid,” the statement reads.

 

SPP stated that it accepts the decision of Judge DJP Angula and is thankful for the court’s time to “ventilate this sensitive matter” but added that Fishcor and the Government failed to take note of the enormous capital investment that was made and that a world-class land-based pelagic fishing plant was built.

 

“It was never the intention of SPP to prevent the public auction. SPP was left with no other alternative to obtain certainty on the remainder quota allocation in terms of Government Gazette 6307. At the end of the third quarter of the fishing year, with no clear response, SPP was left with no other choice but to act in the best interest of the company and its employees on an urgent basis.”

 

The company said in the statement said that it is, however relieved to have written replies by the various ministries and from Fishcor on the issue of quota allocation in terms of the promulgated Government Gazettes.

 

“SPP places on record that despite numerous attempts to engage Fischor, The Minister of Public Enterprises and the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources in order to secure the jobs of 655 employees, SPP has to date of this hearing not had the courtesy of an honest and transparent reply. Despite alleged Cabinet decisions made early in the year, none of the opposing entities have engaged with SPP regarding the apparent decision to separate from SPP. Despite the legal implications of such a decision, engagement is crucial to ensure that employment and the continued operation of the going concern are not affected.”

 

With regards to the so-called Fishrot scandal, SPP has done everything in its power to address the stigma that surrounds it and has played open cards with all role players.

 

The company said it has become abundantly clear after the hearing and filing of answering affidavits that the opposing role players were not doing the same. The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources and Fishcor have for the first time raised legal concerns and have not addressed these concerns with SPP prior to this hearing.

 

The Directors of Fishcor on the board of SPP, past and present, have never raised any concerns regarding the alleged illegality of the founding contracts and promulgated Government Gazettes.

 

Fishcor, as a shareholder, has been placed in breach of their contractual obligations and remains in breach after been given 30 working days to reply.

 

“This failure to respond timeously or in fact correct the breach, speaks volumes of their intentions to act in the best interest of SP and its employees.”

 

The Fishcor board members have again resigned from their positions on the SPP board and left the company without Fishcor representation. This is the third set of Fishcor directors that have resigned in a period of less than a year.

 

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