Ex-Rössing Workers Withdraw Litigation

Former workers of Roumlssing Uranium who are also former members of the Roumlssing Pension Fund (RPF), announced last week that they would be withdrawing their current litigation against the RPF due to “probable obstacles”.

“After in-depth consultations with their legal aisors on probable obstacles, the former workers instructed their legal aisors to withdraw the current litigation,” the press statement read.

Leader of the former workers, Winston Groenewald, would not say what the ‘probable obstacles’ were as this was privileged information to the current legal process.

Former members believe that the surplus is from their employment since a contribution holiday was declared in 1992 and that none of the current employees contributed to their pension fund.

It was NAMFISA’s instructions in 2006 for trustees to investigate the origin of the surplus to ensure just and fair distribution of the surplus.

The statement read that former members will inform the disputed parties of the intended action to be instituted.

Roumlssing as a company is not beneficiary listed in the RPF and is not entitled to any benefit from the fund. This decision is outside the realms of the fiduciary duties of the trustees of the fund, the former members argue.

Former members believe that their struggle will not be satisfied until “true and meaningful justice” is achieved.

The trustees in 20102011 concluded and signed an agreement to distribute the surplus on a 33,3% basis between current members, Roumlssing as the company and former members. After this agreement Roumlssing management intervened and nullified the trustee agreement by appointing a management committee to formulate a new proposal.

The management committee proposed that current employees who were employed after 1993 (besides enjoying a “free ride” on pension fund contributions from former members) are also to enjoy 52% of the surplus, whereas the authors of the surplus is to only receive 15% of the surplus. The mine (motivated by the committee to continue with further contribution holidays), would get 33%.

“The former workers of Roumlssing raised a dispute with RPF, NAMFISA and Roumlssing Uranium, expressing the misrepresentation of the distribution of the RPF surplus that was forthcoming from the employment contracts of former workers. The surplus developed through the employment of workers since 1975 until 1992, and indicated further growth due to favourable investment portfolios,” the statement read.

The case was filed during 2012 after the Pension fund declared the distribution of the surplus 52% for current workers, 33% for Roumlssing Uranium in the form of a further contribution holiday and 15% for former members. The case appeared in front of an appointed judge during March 2014, where merits were discussed.

The amount hoping to be shared fairly amongst all parties involves a surplus of about N$460 million. There are about 10 000 potential beneficiaries – former and current fund contributors.

Source : The Namibian