14 March 2017

Namibia: Mun, Skorpion Still Deadlocked

THE Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) has rejected the latest offer by Skorpion Zinc Mine, which the company claims will reduce retrenchments at Rosh Pinah.

The company announced plans in January to outsource some operations to Basil Read Mining Namibia, thereby scrapping 278 permanent jobs.

The union rejected that idea, and proposed instead that the company should not retrench workers even if they subcontract the mining operations to Basil Read Mining Namibia.

In a letter dated 8 March addressed to the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), Skorpion said it would not be "technically viable" to keep the workers because it creates a lack of accountability and responsibility in executing the Pit 112 project.

The company said it would also not be conforming to labour legislation if it allows such a situation because it would require them to get a licence to act as a private employment agency.

Furthermore, it said doing so would delay the implementation and increase the costs of the Pit 112 project, which in terms of the union's proposal would affect the viability of the project negatively.

The proposal also said the workers affected by the intended restructuring will not be retrenched on 15 March, but will not be entitled to any renumeration and benefits associated with their employment at the company for a period of 12 months.

According to the company, affected employees who will join the mining contractor on a voluntary basis on terms as offered by the contractor will receive severance packages from the mine. The company said workers accepting retrenchment packages will receive their payouts when their employment contracts are terminated tomorrow.

Similarly, the company said those employees who want to keep their jobs without any renumeration and benefits for 12 months will be given preference when it fills vacant positions during such period.

Moreover, it said in the event that an employee had not been transferred during the 12-month period to a vacant position in the company on the same or different terms and conditions as currently employed, such employee's employment will be terminated on 15 March 2018.

It further stated that those who obtain alternative jobs during the said period must inform the company of such employment on or before the date on which the employee commences with such employment, and in which event the retrenchment package of the standing retrenchment agreement will not be applicable and payable.

MUN local branch chairperson Peterson Kambinda yesterday confirmed that the union has rejected the company's latest offer regarding the intended retrenchments.

"We have already rejected the company's proposal. As we speak, we are still on deadlock," said Kambinda, adding that a meeting was scheduled for 12h00 yesterday between the company management, the union and representatives of both the mines and energy and labour ministries in a bid to resolve the matter.

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