Building Forward Better in the Fishery Industry

The International Labour Organization (ILO) with support from the European Commission (EC) has launched the Sustainable Supply Chains to Build Back Better (SSCBBB) project that will focus on promoting decent work and opportunities in the Fisheries Sector of Namibia.

News | 02 July 2021
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The Namibian component is part of a global SSCBBB programme spread across five countries targeting key supply chains that supply goods and services to the EU: coffee in Colombia; electronics in Vietnam; rubber gloves in Malaysia; textiles in Madagascar and fisheries sector in Namibia. This joint intervention in global supply chains seeks to address decent work challenges and opportunities in the five sectors from April 2021 to March 2023.

Officially launching the project virtually on 16 June 2021, the Honourable Minister Utoni Nujoma Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, said:

“The global supply chain in the fishing sector is of great importance to both Namibia and to the European Union. The fishing industry is an important source of employment, food, investment and foreign currency for Namibia. The sector employs directly in excess of 16,000 people and has potential for expansion. The European Union is the destination for 98% of Namibia’s exported processed and unprocessed fish. Namibia’s fishing exports generate approximately 15% of its foreign earnings.” 

To align with a positive post Covid-19 recovery, the Minister proposed a change to the project name to include the more forward-looking ‘Building Forward Better’ phrase as part of its title.

Ms Hopolang Phororo, the ILO Director for Zimbabwe and Namibia outlined the key aims of the Project, which are to promote decent work in the fisheries supply chains as key to the global social and economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. The project will also engage stakeholders and promote social dialogue along the supply chain to keep decent work principles at the forefront; as well as explore possibilities for a “new normal” during and after COVID-19 recovery.

At the same launch ceremony, Ms. Alette Van Leur, Director of the SECTOR Department of the ILO in Geneva underlined that "Today we applaud the government, employers and workers for their resilience in ensuring that the fisheries sector stays afloat amidst COVID-19 and to build back better while contributing to a better future of work."

Her Excellency Sinikka Antila, Ambassador to the EU Delegation in Namibia, affirmed that the European Union attached particular importance to decent work in the fisheries sector and adherence to the tenets of the ILO Work in Fishing Convention No. 188. The project will also seek to promote zero tolerance to child and forced labour campaign, promote safe and healthy working conditions, freedom of association, human rights, trade policies and support the transition to the green economy.
“The EU is not in support of any kind of jobs but decent jobs”

she re-affirmed, recognising Namibia’s 31 years of being a respectable member of the international community and the opportunity it can take to advance decent work in the fishing supply chain.

Mr Job Muniaro, Secretary General of the National Union of Namibian Workers urged the country’s leadership to improve management of the fisheries sector. “…If we manage our fisheries very well, and stop this unnecessary over-fishing, eliminate illegal fishing, safeguard our marine (industry) Namibia will be able to create sustainable jobs for Namibians and foreign workers through value addition.’’

The implementation of the project activities in Namibia are aimed at enhancing knowledge and understanding of the decent work gaps and opportunities in the supply chain among policymakers, employers and business and workers; and other stakeholders.

To get there, it will involve carrying out a ‘a deep-dive’ study in the fisheries sector that will facilitate the formulation of sector specific interventions. The findings from this major study will lead to the development of tools, training and policy guidance, which will enhance knowledge and capacities for key stakeholders with technical support from the ILO.

Earlier in the day, the National Tripartite Advisory Committee (NTAC) for the SSCBBB project held its first meeting. The NTAC comprises key stakeholders in the fishing sector among them government, employers and business representatives, workers and trade unions representatives. Its key role is to identify opportunities for collaboration or partnership with other national programs; provide advice on implementation monitoring, data collection and analysis; and provide inputs to research and analysis in the fishing supply chains and the impact of COVID-19. The NTAC will also act as an advisory panel that discusses emerging issues concerning decent work and the impact of and responses to COVID-19 in the fisheries sector and suggests actions that government, employers and workers bodies and other stakeholders can take to advance decent work in the supply chain.

Members of the NTAC will operate on a voluntary basis and they are from all relevant government Ministries and departments; National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), whose Secretary General Mr. Job Muniaro serves the Chairperson; Trade Union Congress of Namibia (TUCNA); Namibia Fishing Industries and Fishermen Workers Union (NFI); Namibia Employers Federation (NEF); and Erongo Marine Enterprise (PTY) Ltd. The ILO will provide administrative and technical backstopping, as the Secretariat.