Spokesman Dominique Swartz said the strike came as a result of Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) negotiations last week that failed to produce a “positive outcome” over the demand for a relief fund for seasonal workers.
The negotiations took place between the union and Premier Fishing, Oceana, Gansbaai Marine, Suid-Oranje, Saldanha Group and Marine Products (Foodcorp).
Pelagic fishing focuses on fish which live near the surface or in the water column of coastal, ocean and lake waters.
“The union is demanding a relief fund for these vulnerable workers as they often find themselves out of work for months at a time,” said Swartz.
Fawu fishing sector organiser Mthunzi Mhlakane said the workers were not allowed to do other work while contracted to the fishing companies.
“The union is therefore suggesting an allowance of 40 percent of their normal weekly wage, about R412, for every week of non-production just to ensure that employees have something to cover their most basic needs during the months when they are not being used by the fishing companies,” said Swartz.
He said these large companies made use of mechanisms to ensure that they caught all quotas in as short a space of time as possible to minimise the amount spent on wages.
Although these workers were employed on a contract basis from January to December, they believed that they would be out of work by August and would not be able to survive with no income.
Fawu believed the fishing companies could afford to offer their employees some form of monetary assistance for the sake of employee welfare.
“This behaviour by fishing companies is inhumane and immoral as workers surely cannot be expected to survive with no income,” said Swartz.
“Striking workers will be out in full force [on Friday] at the premises of these fishing companies in protest over the companies’ ruthless behaviour.”
Fawu anticipated that the production and processing of fishmeal would be affected as the strike was taking place during peak season.