MUN and Namdeb sign wage agreement

WINDHOEK: The management of the Namdeb Diamond Corporation and the Mineworkers’ Union of Namibia (MUN) signed a wage agreement on Saturday after a two-week strike which almost crippled the diamond industry.

The company lost nearly N.dollars 160 million in income since the strike commenced on 02 August 2014.

Close to 800 workers participated in the strike after wage negotiations deadlocked.

MUN’s Namdeb branch secretary for Information and Publicity, Mathew Nangombe told Nampa on Monday that the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Alpheus Muheua acted as mediator when the agreement was signed at the ministry’s offices in Windhoek.

“We are back at work after the agreement was signed on Saturday. Workers have since then returned, and today everybody should be at work,” he stated.

Nangombe said the three-year wage agreement included a 10 per cent salary increase across-the-board for 2014, and eight per cent for 2015 and 2016, respectively; an increase in the housing allowance of 14 per cent for 2014; another 12 per cent for 2015, and 10 per cent for 2016.

The company’s contribution to the workers’ Medical Aid Scheme has also been increased to 80 per cent, meaning employees will now only contribute 20 per cent.

Last week, MUN southern regional chairperson John Ndeutepo during a media conference accused Government of turning a blind eye to the strike, saying the economy could inevitably suffer crippling consequences.

Namdeb is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Namdeb Holdings (Proprietary) Limited Holdings, which is owned in equal shares (50:50) by the Government of the Republic of Namibia and De Beers.

The strike started after a last-ditch attempt by Muheua to avert industrial action failed then.

Nangombe said the issue of the workers’ children’s school fees has not yet been sorted out, and will be referred for arbitration.

The workers are demanding that the company subsidises 85% of the fees.

“We could not agree on the issue of school fees,” he added.

Workers initially demanded a 15 per cent salary increase for the bargaining unit; 100 per cent medical aid contributions; a subsidy of 85 per cent for school fees; and a 14 per cent housing allowance increase.

The union demanded decent salaries as well as quality healthcare and education, which they said are basic necessities for any developing nation.