The Oceana Group has announced its decision to offer permanent employment to more than 160 seasonal workers employed at its fishmeal plants and related activities in St Helena Bay and Hout Bay. The move follows consultation between the company, the Department of Labour and the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU).

According to Oceana Group Chief Executive Officer, Francois Kuttel: “By changing the employment status of these seasonal workers, we are demonstrating our commitment to providing sustainable employment in the coastal communities where we operate. This is quite a significant decision within the context of the current economic environment, with most companies headed in the opposite direction – increasing their number of contractors / fixed-term contracts rather than employing staff permanently. Our decision was also motivated by concerns raised by our stakeholders during engagements with them.”

Kuttel adds that the main aim of the consultation process was to align the company’s shift structures to all the basic conditions of employment, specifically ensuring that overtime is not exceeded and that employees receive an adequate rest period between shifts. The new permanent working arrangement guarantees a 40-hour working week for the affected employees. Seasonal employees were previously only required to work when the fishmeal plant had fish to process – fish used in the production of fishmeal is not always available due to various factors, such as weather and sea conditions. The workers were referred to as “permanent-seasonals” as they returned to work each year and were members of a provident fund that included cover for death, disability and funeral benefits over the full duration of the year, regardless of whether they were physically working or not. In addition, they received a supplementary “off-season” subsistence allowance.

Oceana Group remains committed to fair labour practices in the interest of protecting and growing the economy of South Africa.

For more information please contact Anthea Abraham, communications manager on aabraham@oceana.co.za.