Strike action threatened at Best Cheer
24 February 2021 | Labour
Swakopmund • [email protected]
The regional office of the Miners Worker’s Union (MUN) in western Namibia is disappointed by “Best Cheer Investments Namibia’s deliberate disregard for collective bargaining principles”, with the union saying the company’s negotiating team is “insincere”.
In light of this, the union has officially confirmed that due to unresolved disputes, it is now up to the workers to vote whether they will strike or not.
The conflict between the union and the company began during wage negotiations in the 2019/2020 financial year.
According to the regional MUN coordinator George Filleppus Ampweya, the union proposed an increase in salaries and an improvement in working conditions in February 2020. “After just one meeting, management declined to raise wages, citing a difficult economic climate and other excuses related to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said in a media release.
The union then revised its original demands, which management also rejected. Thereafter, the union turned to the Labour Commissioner in March 2020. However, after two arbitration meetings, an amicable solution was still not found.
Now the union is demanding, amongst others, that basic salaries be increased from N$3 070 to N$4 270 per month. The MUN also demands a housing allowance of N$700 for all employees who live in a town, while workers who live at a quarry receive a “bush allowance”.
“The Chinese company Best Cheer Investments Namibia does not take the interests of employees to heart and just wants to exploit the country’s resources through cheap labour and slave wages,” the MUN said, adding that employees are not paid fairly for their work.
“The total rejection of a living wage remains unjustified and draconian,” the MUN said.
Best Cheer Investments Namibia owns, among other things, a marble processing plant near Walvis Bay, where blocks, slabs and mosaics are produced. The group also operates three quarries in Namibia: Namib Fantasy, African Persa and Blue Sodalite. According to its own information, Best Cheer Investments Namibia employs 150 people and has a turnover of U$19.46 million.