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Strike At Pescanova Plant In Namibia

Police at Luderitz have dismissed claims of favoritism and political interference by the Namibia Seamen and Allied Workers Union (Nasawu) as “malicious rumors”.

Nasawu, whose branch organizer at Lüderitz is in custody, claims that the police at Lüderitz are acting in cohorts with the management of Pescanova, and certain Cabinet ministers with interests in Pescanova fishing company to prevent striking workers from uncovering the truth about the ill treatment of workers at the factory.

Nasawu branch organizer Petrus Shiyandja was arrested on January 7 at Lüderitz, along with one of the striking workers. Shiyandja was denied bail and is expected to appear again in court on February 2.

Workers at Pescanova fishing factory are on a month-long strike demanding 7,5 percent salary increase, following a deadlock between Nasawu and Pescanova management.

Pescanova is only willing to offer 5 percent. Nasawu President Paulus Hango alleged the arrest was politically-motivated as Shiyandja had committed no crime and was arrested at a car wash facility while waiting for his vehicle to be polished.

However, acting regional Police commander Chief Inspector Nicky Namupala said Shiyandja was arrested “because of the union’s defiance with the court order issued on December 12”.

Chief Inspector Namupala said the court order contains provisions to be adhered to by demonstrators, “as a union and individuals”.

Pescanova had secured a court order that picketers should not come within 400 meters of the fishing company premises.

“The court order is against the union and further 95 individuals, and says picketers should not come within 400 meters of the premises. There are also other clauses, such as no obstructing of entrance or interference with non-striking workers,” said Chief Inspector Namupala.

Picketing workers had been blocking the gates and intimidating working workers in contravention of the court order.

Nasawu says it has asked its lawyers to arrange bail for Shiyndja, as well as to see if they could have the court order set aside.

Hango says Pescanova management is in contravention of provisions of the Labor Act by going to court without first consulting the union.

“The Labor Act is clear that no urgent application should be made without first giving notice to the other party. In this instance, Pescanova did not give us notice but opted to run to the labor court,” Hango said.

The Nasawu president further says the court ruling that demonstrators picket 400 meters away from the premises of the fishing company has to be challenged.

“This is a legal strike, and we have every right to picket at the company premises. Barring us 400 meters away has virtually placed the demonstrators in their homes, effectively silencing us,” said Hango.

Nearly 400 workers have opted not to partake in the picketing and are staying at home. However, those picketing are objecting to the use of additional workers from Pescanova’s associated fishing companies, Lalandii crayfish and white fish processor, and Coastal Marine.

Workers say the labor law says companies should not hire outside personnel when the workforce is on strike.

“That is why the workers are blocking (the employees from Lalandii and Coastal Marine) from entering Pescanova fishing factory. It is against the law,” said Hango.

Pescanova management is yet to make an official statement on the issue.