MUN calls on President to halt Skorpion layoffs

14 Feb 2017 06:50am
KEETMANSHOOP, 14 FEB (NAMPA) – The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) has called on President Hage Geingob to mediate in the retrenchment of 278 workers at the Rosh Pinah-based Skorpion Zinc Mine.
MUN vice-regional chairperson for the southern region, Allen Kalumbu told Nampa on Friday the union is displeased with the lack of support from the mines and labour ministry, as well as the //Kharas regional political leadership.
“The relevant authorities have ignored our pleas for intervention, so now we direct a call to the highest authority, our president to stop the retrenchments Skorpion is instituting for its own capitalist self-interest,” Kalumbu said.
He said the union maintains its stance of vehemently opposing the retrenchments and outsourcing of the company’s mining department where the affected workers are employed.
Most of the workers last week received retrenchment letters.
Skorpion Zinc previously stated it will outsource mining operations to Basil Read Mining which is said to have the heavy equipment necessary to extend the life of the mine.
The workers are expected to be absorbed by the contractor as part of a total workforce of 450 people.
Kalumbu said the union refuses to accept the outsourcing of the permanent Skorpion staff.
“Why should the workers be subjected to a contract labour system where the contractor can do with them what they want? This is catastrophic and if allowed, can happen at other mines in the country as well,” he said.
Kalumbu said Skorpion should not be allowed to run away from their responsibility towards the workers and called on Geingob to engage with the company and the union on how to retain the workers.
“The company has remained with their resolution to retrench without considering other alternatives and this cannot be tolerated.”
Approached for comment on Friday, //Kharas Governor Lucia Basson said she had engaged with Skorpion during a recent visit to Rosh Pinah on the workers’ plight, but was informed that the retrenchment process could not be withdrawn.
“The message by the company’s management in a meeting with myself and Minister of Mines and Energy Obeth Kandjoze, was the same as that explained to the workers and the public.”
She said the company made it clear it does not have any more direct work for the workers.
“Skorpion said it is contracting another company to commence with mining activities of a different kind to access new mineable ore,” Basson said.
She said she would soon provide a response to the union, which previously approached her for support, on the outcome of that meeting.