11 July 2012

Namibia: Navachab Faces a Strike

MORE than 200 workers of the Navachab Gold Mine at Karibib will go on strike tomorrow after salary negotiations between the mine and the Mineworkers Union of Namibian (MUN) reached deadlock.

MUN's acting general secretary, Ebben Zarondo, yesterday told The Namibian that 209 of the 257 workers affiliated to MUN voted in favour of the strike, while two voted against. The other members were apparently "off duty or on leave" and did not vote, according to Zarondo.

"The majority are in favour of the industrial action, hence there will be a strike. The 209 will definitely participate, and those that did not vote because they were off will likely also be part of the strike, so there should be more than 209. The company has been notified. The strike rules have been agreed upon, so we intend to start the action on Thursday," he said.

According to Navachab Gold Mine's managing director, Johan Coetzee, the MUN and the mine reached deadlock over salary increases. The union wanted a 12 per cent increase in basic wages, but the mine's offer now stands on a seven per cent increase plus N$800 in cash after MUN rejected the mine's offer of 8 per cent.

Coetzee said Navachab is the only mine in Namibia paying 100 per cent of the medical aid contribution for its employees and their dependents. It also pays 100 per cent of their children's school fees at the Karibib Private School and provides free transport to and from work.

He said the company's payroll had increased by four per cent from last year due to price increases on the benefits.

"With the company's offer of a 7 per cent basic wage increase, the total increased cost to company for employees in the bargaining unit thus stands at 11 per cent. This is against a background of an inflation rate of just over 5 per cent in 2011, while company performance was 23 per cent below target," Coetzee said.

Zarondo said the workers would be happy with a ten per cent wage increase.

Most of the MUN workers will strike except those involved in essential services such as in the clinic, dewatering and pumping and security.

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