Namdeb, Mun Talks Hit Deadlock

Talks between Namdeb and the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) aimed at ending a crippling strike at the diamond mining company have collapsed.

The strike, already in its third day, is said to cost Namdeb an average of N$10 million in revenue daily.

“Namdeb remains committed to finding an amicable solution to the current dispute and will continue to communicate with employees in an effort to bring this strike to an end as soon as possible,” said Namdeb CEO Inge Zaamwani- Kamwi at a press briefing yesterday.

About 1 200 workers at Namibia’s largest diamond mining company have been on strike since Saturday, demanding higher wages.

The government stepped in last week to try to break the deadlock following several rounds of failed negotiations between Namdeb and the MUN.

The MUN is demanding a minimum increment on basic wages of 15 percent while the company is offering 7.5 – 8.5 percent. In addition, the MUN is demanding an increased contribution by the company to the medical aid scheme for employees, as well as a subsidy for children’s schooling.

Contacted for comment yesterday, MUN Namdeb branch secretary for information and publicity, Mathew Nangombe, said that over the past five years workers never got a proper increase while in 2009 workers got no increase because of the economic crisis the company was in – and the workers understood. “But now the company is in a healthy financial position to bail out their employees on medical aid and the school subsidy,” he said.

According to Nangombe, MUN did a benchmark study in the mining industry and have proof that Namdeb is the worst of all companies regarding medical aid contributions as other companies offer from 8020 to 100% cover while Namdeb offers 6040.

He said the school fee per learner per month is N$950 irrespective of the grading and this is unaffordable. “The school is a company school to cater for the employee’s children and all teachers are on the company payroll – it was never meant to become a business,” he added.

Zaamwani-Kamwi said the strategic focus of her management team has for the past five years been to break new frontiers in efforts to find innovative ways to prolong the life of the mine and ensure a sustainable future for the benefit of Namibia and its people.

“In fact, as far as we know, Namdeb may well be the oldest operating alluvial diamond mine in the world, giving testimony to the incredible efforts over the years to keep this ageing mine operating,” said Zaamwani-Kamwi, adding that the current strike obviously dealt a severe blow to these gallant efforts. Nangombe further accused Namdeb employees of still being accommodated in colonial compounds, hostels and containers, adding that they do not receive any housing allowance to acquire their own properties.

“The units in which they are currently accommodated belong to the company and once you retire you are given 30 days to vacate the unit and to leave Oranjemund,” he added.

Source : New Era