Husab and union working towards resolving impasse
Looking for solutions
25 September 2019 | Business
Frieda Abraham, the public relations officer and secretary to the chief executive officer (CEO) of Swakop Uranium, confirmed that the continuous operations (contops) discussions between the company and the union have not been concluded yet.
She also confirmed that a meeting has been agreed on by both parties and scheduled with the Ministry of Labour for 30 September 2019, as part of the process of trying to reach a settlement.
“At this stage I would not like to comment any further because this is an ongoing process. The company’s immediate priority is to reach an amicable agreement as soon as possible to the benefit of all parties. With both parties indicating their full commitment to reaching an amicable agreement, we are hopeful that this matter will be resolved soon. Our employees are our foundation and their well-being is considered at all times while negotiating.”
Workers at Husab decided on 20 September that they would no longer work on weekends after shift rosters lapsed, where after the company ostensibly indicated to the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) that it did not want to continue with the old shift roster pattern.
The workers thus decided that if this was the case, they would only be prepared to continue working five working days per week and eight hours a day.
MUN also provided feedback to its members about an urgent meeting it conducted with Swakop Uranium management at Husab Mine on 23 September.
During the meeting, MUN expressed its disappointment about how the company disrespected the recognition and procedural agreement by unilaterally implementing a shift roster change without consulting the union.
The union also highlighted concerns of members raised at meetings in three different towns on Sunday.
Swakop Uranium representatives indicated that they were not in a position to respond to concerns raised by members during these meetings.
The company said it was not aware of any concerns and would have to look into the issue in order to provide appropriate feedback.
MUN further indicated its discontent with the fact that Swakop Uranium drafted the shift roster in the absence of union representation.
The union also called on Swakop Uranium to stop what it termed “unethical dealings” and accused the company of allowing a certain individual to use his political connections to influence government officials to compromise the interests of Namibian citizens.
The union said that it would not allow any form of exploitation by the Chinese investors/owners despite them having the financial capacity.
The union also informed management of its position that failure to address the issue and come up with an amicable solution would lead to the mobilization of all Swakop Uranium employees.
The union said it intends to collect the voters’ cards of its more than 1500 members working at the mine as well as that of their relatives and hand these over to Erongo governor Cleophas Mutjavikua.
Swakop Uranium raised its concern about the union comments, labelling these as threats. The company advised that the involved parties should rather focus on the contops application and not take things out of context.
The union put it on record that it did not issue any threats but simply conveyed the reality of how its members felt, were affected and compromised by what it termed “the crooked ways” deployed by Swakop Uranium.
According to the Swakop Uranium website, the mine has 1600 permanent employees and 600 contractors’ employees. This makes it one of the biggest employers in the country.
Currently, around 95% of the workforce is Namibian, more than 50% are in the youth category and more than 11% are females.