Workers ‘Pushed Off’ Mine – Union

ABOUT 80 workers of Sure Cast Mining and Construction, one of the main sub-contractors for Langer Heinrich Uranium (LHU), were told on Friday not come to work – one month earlier than the time agreed between the mine and the workers last week.

The Mineworkers’ Union of Namibia (MUN) held a press conference at Swakopmund on Monday where the union’s regional chairman, Tuhafeni Petrus condemned the mine for “pushing the workers off the site like dogs”.

MUN’s Erongo branch coordinator Kleopas Ngwena said LHU and Sure Cast decided to terminate their contract at the end of this month, although it was apparently still valid until the end of October 2015.

Petrus said the mine and the union had agreed, during negotiations last week, that the last day for workers to report for work would be at the end of November 2014.

“Sadly, the management made a U-turn and told workers on Friday that it was their last day at work and there was no need to return. This was a surprise to us,” Ngwena said.

The union blames the companies’ actions on the fact that the workers are “union-active”.

Ngwena urged LHU to “take over” the workers because they were experienced in their jobs.

The Namibian is in possession of a notice from Sure Cast announcing the termination of the contract and that the last day would be 30 November.

“We have had meetings since notification to try and negotiate but this was fruitless. At this stage, the company does not have alternative employment opportunities due to unsuccessful tenders and a tough economic period within the mining sector,” the notice read, concluding that the staff affected will be given at least 30 days prior notice as per the Labour Act.

A letter from LHU confirmed the termination of the contract on 30 November.

The problem, Petrus said, is that the retrenchment packages still needed to be negotiated up to the end of November, when the workers also had to go for “exit medical checkups”.

“Now we have been pushed off the mine. Our managers have packed up and left, so how do we negotiate the retrenchment packages,” he said.

Sure Cast general manager Robert de Villiers said the workers would be paid up to the end of December, but were allowed to stop working “to find themselves other jobs” in the meantime.

“The mine said the workers could go because there was no work. We terminated our contract because of economic conditions pertaining to the uranium industry. So we allowed the workers to go and find work. They are still getting paid until the end of December. We cannot understand why the workers cannot understand that this is to their benefit,” said De Villiers.

He said that Sure Cast and a workers’ committee will meet on Wednesday to “find out what they do not understand”.

Source : The Namibian