CRACKS might soon appear in a scheme to employ 425 former factory workers of Seaflower Pelagic Processing (SPP) at Tunacor Fisheries Limited because the contingent of factory workers will receive a full salary with benefits for not working while their new employer will receive a hefty Christmas bonus to boot.
In an unprecedented ‘transfer’ of workers to make good on a promise made by the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr. Albert Kawana, and the Erongo Regional Governor, Neville Andre late in November, Tunacor Fisheries Limited signed a protocol agreement with the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) to temporarily employ 425 workers of Seaflower Pelagic Processing (SPP) in exchange for a horse mackerel quota of 4 000 tonnes.
The 425 workers of SPP absconded from their posts without tendering resignations after a meeting with the Minister of Fisheries and Marine, Dr. Albert Kawana, and the Erongo Regional Governor, Neville Andre, on 23 November where they were promised permanent employment at another fishing company.
The 4 000 tonnes of fish gifted to Tunacor by Fishcor was done with the understanding that 655 former employees of SPP, would be accommodated as a result of the deal.
The fact that only two thirds of the SPP workforce accepted the fisheries minister’s deal to transfer, means that Tunacor stands to pocket more than N$6 million once the additional quota is processed by the permanent employees while none of the new Tunacor employees would have to lift a finger to earn their salaries.
Tunacor undertook to pay the new employees a full salary despite the fact that the company does not have any open positions on any of its factory vessels or in any of its processing plants at the moment. The new employees will receive a full salary and benefits such as medical aid, housing, and transport allowances while sitting at home.
Mathew Simasiku, a shop steward of the workers that have been transferred by Fishcor to Tunacor, thanked President Hage Geingob, Dr. Kawana, the Minister of Public Enterprises, Leon Jooste, Governor Andre, and the temporary board members of Fishcor for intervening on their behalf.
Simasiku claimed that they have been thrown out on the street by SPP without any salaries having paid to them since May this year.
By transferring the contingent SPP employees to another fishing company, Fishcor in fact, acted in contradiction to their 40% shareholding contract in SPP and is actively sabotaging their own and by default the Namibian Government and the lowly taxpayer’s investment in the country’s fishing industry.
When asked about Fishcor’s contractual obligations with regards to its 40% partnership in SPP and if the transfer of employees and the allocation of the state-owned company’s annual quota to a company other than SPP in this manner, is not in contravention of gazetted contracts, answered that the matter is sub judice.
The agreement signed between Tunacor and Fishcor with regard to the allocation of the 4 000 tonne horse mackerel quota in return for the employment of SPP workers will end March next year and role players indicated that the deal will be revised before then.
A quick calculation at the current industry price of N$2 500 per tonne for 4 000 tonnes of horse mackerel, Tunacor stands to make a healthy Christmas bonus of N$6.175 million after paying a salary of N$3 000 per month to their new employees for three months.