Mozambique: “VEGA 5” survivors offered their jobs back

The fishing company Pescamar has thought better of its decision to sack 12 workers who survived a Somali pirate attack, and has offered to give them back their jobs, reports the Beira paper “Diario de Mocambique”.

The 12 men were sacked on 25 November. Pescamar justified the move on the grounds that the company now needed a smaller workforce/

The 12 had all worked on the Pescamar prawn trawler, the “Vega 5”, which was hijacked on 27 December 2010 off the coast of the southern Mozambican province of Inhambane. The ship was taken to Somalia, where it was turned into a pirate mother ship. The Mozambican crew was forced to work for the pirates as they raided shipping in the Arabian sea

In March, an anti-piracy unit of the Indian navy engaged the “Vega 5” in a gun battle. The “Vega 5” caught fire, and those aboard jumped into the sea. The Indian navy picked up 61 pirates and 13 of the original crew members (12 Mozambicans and one Indonesian). Nine other crew members (seven Mozambicans and two Indonesians) were missing, believed drowned. The two Spanish crew members were held hostage in Somalia, and eventually released in May against a large ransom.

The “Vega 5” survivors were angered by the sackings, and by the fact that they had received no compensation from Pescamar for their ordeal at the hands of the pirates They contrasted the millions of dollars paid in ransom for the two Spaniards with the shabby treatment they received from Pescamar.

The Pescamar director, Felisberto Manuel, announced the company’s change of heart after a meeting with the survivors that was also attended by trade union representatives, and officials from the Sofala Provincial Labour and Fisheries directorates.

The 12 survivors had in their pockets the letters they had received from Pescamar telling them that, as from 27 November, their services would no longer be required.

Manuel, however, said the company was open to signing new work contracts with the 12, and “we never considered abandoning them”. The letters of dismissal were just a “breakdown in communication”.

The contracts of the 12 were about to expire anyway. Under normal conditions, Manuel said, the 12 should have been informed that the company was “rescinding their contracts in order to sign new ones, which did not happen”.

The contracts were temporary – Manuel said the 12 could not become full members of the Pescamar staff, because the list of permanent staff was already full and could not be expanded.

A representative of the survivors, Jose Mandava, said “whenever the company takes a position about our contracts, it never tells us”.

“Since the company says it’s open to sign new contracts with us, we shall analyse the matter and communicate our decision”, he added.

The Sofala Provincial Fisheries Director said the lack of dialogue about terminating the contracts had worried the group. “We recommend that the company improves its level of communication, so that it does not create any further agitation”, he stressed.

Post published in: Africa News

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