MUN slams Skorpion Zinc over planned layoffs

26 Jan 2017 07:00am
KEETMANSHOOP, 26 JAN (NAMPA) – The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) has condemned Skorpion Zinc Mine over the intended layoffs of 278 workers expected to happen towards the end of February.
The mine is in the process of outsourcing operations of its mining department to private company, Basil Read Mining Namibia, which is set to absorb the affected workers on a contract basis.
MUN Skorpion branch chairperson, Petersen Kambinda said at a media conference in Keetmanshoop on Tuesday to make matters worse, the union only learned of this development a week ago.
“Skorpion kept us in the dark about the outsourcing of mining operations and the loss of jobs. They informed us in a letter on 16 January after previously denying that they were concluding a contract with Basil Read,” Kambinda said.
He said the matter came to the attention of the union after the private company advertised vacancies at Skorpion in newspapers last year December.
“We demand to be included in discussions on the future of the workers. We cannot allow permanent workers to lose their jobs only to be employed as cheap labourers,” Kambinda said.
He said the underlying intention of the outsourcing was to maximise profits for Skorpion and Basil Read through the exploitation of Namibian workers.
The mine’s spokesperson, Nora Ndopu however dismissed the union’s claim of exclusion when approached by Nampa on Wednesday.
“We are continuing to engage with the union on profits and retrenchment packages and so far we have not reached any deadlock in our meetings,” she said.
Ndopu said the company was forced to outsource final mining operations due to a lack of funds to buy the right equipment for the extraction of the last bits of zinc at the mine.
“It is no secret that the mine has reached its lifespan. We are changing our mining model to prevent full closure of the mine, which would have happened in June this year. The new model guarantees operations into the next three years,” she said.
Ndopu said the company was trying its best to retain jobs for the affected workers.
“There is a difference between retrenching and putting people on the street. The contractor will create jobs for 450 people, including the affected workers.”
Skorpion is owned by Indian mining company, Vedanta Resources, and employs around 1 500 people.