Initiative to improve working conditions in the fishing industry launched

Niël Terblanché

In order to ensure fairness and safety in the workplace, Utoni Nujoma, the Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation has inaugurated the National Coordination Mechanism (NCM) on Decent Work within the Namibian fisheries sector.

The initiative targets pressing issues such as occupational health, forced labour, as well as violence and harassment aboard vessels operating in Namibian waters.

Comprising 16 members, the NCM embodies a collaborative effort with representatives from the government, trade unions, and the Namibia Employers Federation, all selected through tripartite constituent nominations.

Aune Mudjanima of the labour ministry will take the helm as the chairperson for a five-year term, during which the team is expected to address and promote decent work standards in the fishing industry.

Nujoma stressed the NCM’s critical role in balancing worker well-being with the promotion of sustainable business practices.

He pointed to the critical need for improved employment conditions, accident prevention, and disease control in workplaces while decrying the current shortcomings in these areas across some organizations.

Nujoma stressed the profound impact of fair treatment, decent wages, and safe working environments on worker productivity, profitability, and national economic growth.

He stated that the fisheries sector is a crucial employment source that significantly contributes to the livelihood of many Namibians, emphasizing the moral and developmental imperative of decent work.

The launch also featured a Business Forum on Advancing Decent Work in the Namibian Fisheries Supply Chain, aiming to raise awareness, address sectoral challenges, and explore opportunities for improvement and expansion within the supply chain.

This forum will provide a platform for local businesses to investigate both local and international market prospects, fostering business sustainability and diversification.

To tackle the fishing industry’s challenges, the government has introduced several measures, including the development of a toolkit for the fisheries supply chain and the certification of 42 labour inspectors.

These inspectors are trained in basic safety at sea and are equipped to conduct vessel inspections in compliance with national laws.

Additionally, standardized employment contracts have been developed, offering fishermen job security, fair treatment, and protection from exploitation, aligning with the International Labour Organization’s Work in Fishing Convention 2007 (No. 188).

Christine Bader, a specialist in transport and maritime sectors, commended Namibia’s commitment to achieving decent work in the fishing sector, emphasizing the importance of ongoing compliance with Convention 188.

She also highlighted the initiative’s relevance in the context of the European Union’s due diligence debate, which mandates companies to prevent and address environmental and human rights impacts, including labour rights, in their value chains.

The launch of the initiative is a significant advancement in ensuring the welfare and rights of workers in the Namibian fishing industry.

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