Namibia: New Employment Conditions for Fishing Industry Workers

Certain provisions of basic conditions of employment or service for employees and employers in the fisheries industry have been varied by the labour minister.

This means provisions of the Labour Act, as provided for these conditions, have been substituted by the varied provisions, which were published in the Government Gazette of 1 March 2023.

The variation came into force on 1 March 2023 and will remain in force for the next five years.

The new varied basic conditions of employment provisions for fishers in terms of the ordinary hours of work is nine hours a day if a fisher works six or fewer days a week.

In addition, fishers are entitled to a meal interval (lunch) of at least thirty minutes for every five hours of continuous work.

The variation brings changes in terms of overtime for fishers, where it permits them to perform overtime not exceeding 35 hours in a week and in any case not more than five hours a day.

Like in a normal overtime situation, affected employees should first give consent before employers seek authorisation from the Executive Director in the labour ministry to perform overtime work.

To limit fatigue, the variation provides for a rest period not less than 10 hours in any 24-hour period and 77 off hours in any seven-day period.

The fishers are further entitled to be paid shore leave of one full day off for every seven days worked at sea and a fraction of a day, calculated on a pro-rata basis for less than seven days worked at sea, which the

employer grants upon the return of a fisher from sea.

The Labour Act provides for the minister to exempt any employer or class of employers from any provision of Basic Conditions of Employment, expect in terms of severance pay and dispute resolutions.

Labour and industrial relations minister Utoni Nujoma varied the labour provisions after consulting the Labour Advisory Council. This followed an application by employers in the fishing industry with a consent of the affected employees through their trade unions.

According to labour ministry executive director Otniel Podelwilts, the conditions of service that have been varied include the ordinary hours of work, overtime, meal intervals and daily spread-over as well as the weekly rest period.

The variation gives effect to the provisions of the International Labour Organisation Convention 188 on Work in Fishing, which Namibia ratified in 2018. The Convention aims to ensure that fishers have decent conditions of work on board fishing vessels with regard to minimum requirements for work on board, conditions of service, accommodation and food occupational safety and health protection, medical care and social security.


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