Namdeb Contractor Locks Out Workers

IN AN alleged attempt to intimidate its almost 300 employees, BampE International Namibia locked out 14 workers’ representatives at Namdeb in Oranjemund last week.

John Ndeutepo, the chairperson of the southern Mineworkers’ Union of Namibia (MUN), confirmed this development.

According to Ndeutepo, the latest tactics by the company’s management are aimed at diverting attention from a simmering wage dispute between them and the employees.

Ndeutepo also called on Namdeb to intervene in the industrial mess as “they cannot ignore it when contractors violate laws”, Ndeutepo charged.

BampE is responsible for maintaining the seawall at Namdeb. Former Telecom managing director Frans Ndoroma is a director of BampE.

When approached for comment, Ndoroma professed ignorance about the workers being locked out. All Ndoroma was prepared to concede was that talks about wages were underway.

Among others, the dispute relates to wages, transport allowances, a production bonus and medical aid.

In a letter addressed to the Office of the Labour Commissioner late last year, the MUN states that the union demands a wage increase of 20% for job grades one and two, 17% for grades three and four and 12% for the fifth and sixth job grades.

In contrast to this, the company is only prepared to increase the wages of grades one and two by 10% – half of the union’s demand. As far as grades three and four are concerned, BampE International offers a mere 8% and 6% for grades five and six.

This offer relates to 2014. During 2015 and 2016, the offers will likely be decreased even more.

Furthermore, the company is neither prepared to contribute to the transport expenses of the employees, nor does it want to provide a production bonus incentive – a situation which has further irked workers.

A dispute surrounding medical aid contributions by the employers – substantially lower than a proposal by the employees – is another bone of contention, documents in possession of The Namibian reveal.

Regarding the wage dispute, Ndoroma said: “I’m aware that they were discussing wages.”

Upon enquiry, Namdeb spokesperson Pauline Thomas said normally they do not intervene in matters relating to contractors. “It’s not for us to jump in – it’s not a Namdeb issue.”

The Labour Commissioner, Bro-Mathew Shinguadja, on Friday said: “No, we can’t tell you [about] things that are pending. If it’s not resolved, we cannot tell anything [to you] but the parties themselves.”

Shinguadja equally could not say when he expects the matter to be finalised.

Source : The Namibian