Cape Town – It might be smelly, but the fishing company that provides work to 100 people in Hout Bay should not be closed to appease the “champagne and caviar crowd of Hout Bay who have little regard for the working families”.
That was the reaction by the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Tuesday, after fishing group Oceana [JSE:OCE] announced on August 14 that it would close its operation, which Cosatu says was as a result of the City of Cape Town’s introduction of new air regulations.
City of Cape Town councillor Siyabulela Mamkeli, who is a Mayoral Committee Member for Health, told Fin24 Wednesday that the city has not introduced new regulations, nor forced closure of the factory.
"The legislation regulating this industry is national legislation promulgated by the National Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, namely Regulation 983, promulgated in terms of the National Environmental Management (NEM): Air Quality Act," Mamkeli said in an emailed response. "The city also administers the NEM: Air Quality Act and regulations related to listed activities."
Cosatu said it was outraged by these regulations, which it maintained were done at the behest of the rich in Hout Bay keen to create a life of luxury in the Cape Town coastal town.
“For a long time now there has been an attempt by some wealthier white residents and Mayor (Patricia) de Lille to get the working class out of Hout Bay,” the Western Cape branch of Cosatu said in a statement.
V&A for Hout Bay?
"Cosatu also believes that the white establishment want to develop a V&A Waterfront type activity on the site that would mainly benefit white tourism," said Cosatu.
Oceana spokesperson Bulelwa Nombutuma told Fin24 that the company was facing increasing complaints about the bad odour at its Hout Bay production plant.
Nombutuma said Oceana had implemented several measures to reduce the smell, including the use of odour abatement technology and the reduction of its normal annual production by 60% over the past three years.
The measures had a significant negative impact on the financial viability of the business, she said.
However, it did not result in the reduction of the number of complaints.
“To the contrary, increased activism saw the level of complaints grow by 240% during the last three years,” she said.
The company has since offered employees alternative employment at its St Helena Bay facility.
City of Cape Town conspiring with white community, says Cosatu
Cosatu said it will work with the community and the workers of Hout Bay to oppose the closure of the factory.
“(It will also) ensure that the rights of workers and the black community are safeguarded from the gentrification of the area,” Cosatu said. “There have been too many examples in the City of Cape Town of black people being systematically pushed out of prime areas by the city and white developers who are taking over.
“This land in Hout Bay belongs to the Department of Public Works and must be used to transform the beneficiaries of development in Cape Town, away from the white cabal,” Cosatu said.
“For too long the City of Cape Town has been conspiring with the white community to attack the interests of the black community of Hout Bay, as witnessed by the police assault on the people of Hangberg, while the people of the valley made sandwiches for the police.
“The fundamental point at stake is how new forms of forced removals are being enacted by the City, to pander to the privileged groups.”