Namdeb Threatens Court Action

THE ongoing Namdeb strike has reached boiling point, with the company threatening to take the Mineworkers Union of Namibia to court if it does not accept the offer on the table by 09h00 today.

With the strike in its fifth day, no formal agreement has been reached as yet.

The company said there will be a 10% across the board increase for all employees in the bargaining unit and that all employees would receive a 14% housing increase in the bargaining.

Namdeb has offered a 7030 increase on the medical aid payments, while the MUN demanded an 8020 increase. The company also offered a CPI plus 1% increase for 2015 and 2016, while the union also made additional demands pertaining to payment of education fees.

Namdeb chief executive officer Zaamwani-Kamwi this week said the Company and Goverment were losing about N$10 million a day as a result of the strike and that they were doing everything to minimise the potential damage as a result of the strike, which could lead to the possible closure of the company.

More than 745 workers are participating in the strike that started on Saturday after the two parties reached a deadlock in Friday’s negotiations.

In a letter dated 6 August from the company lawyer, Metcalfe Attorneys, addressed to the chairperson of the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN), Shavuka Mbidhi, the company said the current strike was affecting two essential emergency services that are crucial to the their operations, namely the seawalls and mining de-watering.

“Failure to perform emergency services such as seawalls and mining de-watering (pumping) that should be vigilantly maintained, might result in loss of life and destruction of a national asset due to the strike,” the company said yesterday, adding that this could lead to the eventual closure of the company.

“As you will perceive, our client is going out of its way to accommodate you in an effort to terminate the strike. Given the urgency of this matter and the potential loss of life, employment and a national asset you placed on terms that if this offer is not accepted by 09h00 today, our client will be forced to approach the court on an urgent basis in order to protect its assets and prevent possible loss of life,” reads the letter.

“After due consideration and in an absolute bona fide attempt to settle this matter immediately, our client reiterates its offer upon which the parties have agreed. In addition, our client will immediately implement the 7030 increase on the medical aid payments and propose that an arbitration board be convened in respect of your 8020 demand,” the letter says.

Metcalfe also said that threats of violence have been directed at some employees and management by union members. “You are requested to ensure that this is immediately desisted in order to ensure settlement of this matter as law abiding citizens in the interest of what is essentially a national asset,” it reads.

Mbidhi yesterday said he had not yet received the letter, but said the union has, in principle, agreed to the 10%, but only if the company was willing to agree on the 100% medical aid contribution.

“Why should they (Namdeb) go to their lawyers? This has nothing to do with the lawyers. Let them take the matter to court if they please, but we won’t compromise our position,” he said.

He, however, said he could only comment further once he receives the letter.

Source : The Namibian