About 600 Irvin and Johnson (I&J) sea-going crew workers have been on strike for a week, forcing almost all the fishing company’s 12 Cape Town-based vessels to lie unproductive in Table Bay harbour.

The fishermen are demanding a 23 percent wage increase after all Irvin and Johnson’s qualified skippers were given an across-the-board increase of more than 23 percent in October 2014.

In October last year, I&J obtained a High Court interim interdict to stop the strike but this was overturned by the Labour Court in April this year.

National Certified Fishing and Allied Workers Union general secretary, Llowellyn Domingo, said that despite negotiations since then, I&J bosses have continually refused to budge from their 8.25 percent increase offer.

“As all I&J’s 12 vessels, including their two freezer vessels, were in the harbour by Wednesday morning for Voting Day, all fishermen could come ashore and refuse to go back to sea so that the company can see we are serious about getting this 23 percent,” Domingo said.

“We are hoping they will want to renegotiate after the boats lie in the harbour for four days, which should equate to about a R10million loss to I&J, but we have the stamina to go for four weeks at least,” he adds.

Domingo said the strike would affect some 3000 workers at I&J’s factory and processing plants in Woodstock and Paarden Eiland, as well as 100 loading and docking workers at Table Bay harbour

I&J’s management has refused to speak to the media despite several attempts.