Justice for Namibian fishermen illegally sacked for industrial action

Namibian fishermen demonstrate in Walvis Bary
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On 20 February 2020 fishermen at Walvis Bay in Namibia demonstrated as they have done every single day since their sacking in 2015 for taking legal strike action against brutal conditions in the Namibian fishing industry.

This day their demands were that no bail be granted to the “Fishrot 6” – two government ministers, their relatives and close associates – exposed as taking bribes from the Icelandic fishing company Samherji in exchange for preferential treatment over fish quotas 

The fishermen say they are tired of hearing about the six accused asking for bail, considering the massive damage they have caused to the fishermen’s families and the country at large through their corrupt dealings with private multinational fishing companies

While Namibia’s government ministers and other high officials gave these companies favourable treatment, they were busy illegally sacking 4000 workers in 2015, for taking industrial action to demand: proper health & safety conditions in their extremely dangerous industry (many have lost lives and limbs while working), proper payment for shifts and overtime, and an end to 21-36 hour shifts worked with no rest. 

Since then the fishermen have fought for and been denied justice by the Namibian Ministry of Labour, and the Namibian judicial system

This is because the private fishing companies have openly bribed with shares and directorships a fifth of MPs in the Namibian parliament, together with many members of the judiciary.

The scandal over the wholesale corruption came to a head in 2019 with the exposure by TV Channel Al Jazeera of the “Fishrot 6” in their programme Anatomy of a Bribe.

The Namibian fishermen have shown extraordinary persistence, determination, and collective organisation in their efforts to demand justice. They have linked up to form an international organisation with fishermen in South Africa who are enduring exactly the same barbaric conditions at work, and the same treatment if they dare to go on strike.

The ruling party in Namibia, which controls parliament through a rigged electronic voting system, is the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO).

Huge foreign fishing companies, facilitated by SWAPO government ministers, are exploiting and destroying Namibia’s fish stocks, and expropriating the profits away from Namibia, where thousands of fishermen live and die in the direst of poverty.

See articles breaking the scandal of the bribery and collusion of Namibian government ministers with Samherji.

See below a model letter you can write to the Namibian President, Ombudsman, Minister of Justice, the Labour Commissioner and other powerful judges to support the fishermen’s demands.