Unhappy Mine Workers Threaten Not to Vote

A group of Dundee Precious Metals Tsumeb (DPMT) and other community workers staged a strike last Thursday against the Canadian owned mining company.

They protested against wages and conditions they said are so low that many employees are forced to rely on other forms of business for assistance. The protesters, who included current DPMT workers as well as former employees and members of the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) were demanding bonuses, more full time employment and medical aid and pension.

The recent strike marked a dramatic increase in the opposition to DPMT and similar events were already staged against the mine several times this year.

“Contract workers are also people, so have mercy on us. If we are to work in conditions which have been proved toxic to our health the least this company can do is to offer medical aid and pension for poisoning us,” said one of the protesters who asked for anonymity as he still works at DPMT.

Oscar Mwilla Nashikoto, a resident who took part in the rally outside the Tsumeb mine, said workers “refuse to live in fear and refuse to accept the scraps which they are being paid for working in risky conditions. They do not want a hand-out, they want a decent wage for their hard work.”

“This is not work, it is a disease, do you think that these people do not want money? The copper should come to Namibia and the arsenic go back to Canada. Why can’t they build the smelter in their own country, they have the resources. People who are doing their dirty work are paid peanuts. If this continues many of us are not going to vote until such a time that our demands are met,” said another fuming demonstrator who also asked for his name not to be mentioned out of fear of being persecuted.

Other complaints mentioned in the petition included favouritism as some top level employees are allegedly coming onto the mine under the influence of alcohol whilst lower ranked employees run the risk of being sacked if caught twice. The law on alcohol they said was written to apply to any and all workers and not only some but not others.

A DPMT representative received the petition and told the workers and residents that DPMT would look at the petition and give a response in due course.

Source : New Era