FAWU blames management for fishing vessel deaths

Union says employers do not take safety seriously

Press Statement by FAWU on the Capsize of Fishing Vessels and the Perishing of 9 Workers

The Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) is disturbed by the reports of mass deaths of nine (9) fishing workers in the waters of South Africa from a capsized fishing vessel, named MFV Lincoln, of the Viking Fishing Pty Ltd that carried 21 crew members and, in the absence of any information to the contrary, we can only place the fault on the doorstep of management of the company.

This incident comes hardly within a week of the Meeting of Fishing Experts from Unions, Employers and Governments at the International Labour Organization (ILO) held on the 21st till 25thSeptember and which agreed on the Guidelines in Implementing the Convention 188, Convention on the Work in the Fishing Sector, which convention 188 emphasize the issue of health and safety for fishers on-board fishing vessels.

While South African Government is one of the only five countries that ratified Convention 188 we are disturbed that Employers do not seem to take serious the plight of Fishers and their safety on board fishing vessels.

We call on the Maritime Safety Authority, which appears to be the relevant competent body assigned to investigate incidences of this nature, to leave no stone unturned in getting to the bottom of such mass deaths of workers. If needs be, and we have reasons to believe there is, prosecutions should be pursued against management and executives of Viking for poor health and safety standards.

In this regard, our initial reaction is in agreement with Leo Govender, the Head of Maritime Studies at the Durban University of Technology, that training may not have been adequately, if at all, extended to crew members or fishers.

For now, we call on the continuation of the search, and possibly rescue, mission to continue unabated and for those rescued or surviving Fishers to be taken in for counselling as soon as it is possible.

Issued by Katishi Masemola, FAWU General Secretary, 28 September 2015