By: Justicia Shipena
The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) has rejected the life of mine extension by Rössing Uranium.
MUN expressed its dissatisfaction and unequivocal discontentment with the manner in which management of the uranium mine is handling the issue of life of mine extension.
MUN Erongo Regional Coordinator George Ampweya said the life of the mine was due to end in 2026.
He said Rössing under its new ownership China National Uranium Corporation Limited (CNUC) applied for the life of mine extension, which would see the life of mine extending to 2036.
“It was however with shock and utter dismay that the branch executive committee of MUN came to know of the plans by management to retrench approximately 400 workers under the disguise of the introduction of the voluntary separation process to all employees which was announce at quarterly employees’ managing director’s briefing session on the 23 February 2023,” he said.
Ampweya noted that, at the same briefing, management informed the workforce that, given the new model of operations associated with the planned life of mine extension, certain roles will be outsourced to sub-contractors.
He stated that, based on the information presented at the meeting, it was unilaterally announced by the company without engaging the union.
The unionist said a significant number of permanent employees will be directly impacted by the planned process.
Ampweya said the mine’s management cited that the current model of operations proved to be extremely costly as it pertains to the retention of permanent employees and based on their assessments, outsourcing permanent employment jobs to sub-contractors would be beneficial to the intended process.
“This is clear that the new capitalists CNUC majority shareholder is opting for exploiting Namibians through the draconian contract labour system,” he stressed.
He questioned how permanent employment roles be outsourced while explaining that this would mean if by 2026 management has not attracted sufficient employees who elect to accept the voluntary separation packages, Rössing would then initiate the forced retrenchment process.
This process, he said, will ultimately see 400 employees directly losing their employment.
In this light, the union has rejected the approach by Rössing Uranium mine.
“Rössing’s decision to consistently refuse to honour both the retrenchment agreement and procedural agreement entered into with the union as it relates to a collective bargaining process pertaining to retrenchments only exposes its ill-intended exploitative and mala fide tendencies of the company.”
MUN, which is the sole bargaining agent at the mine, is now demanding for the immediate cessation of what they term “illegal process of soliciting selected employees” to accept the voluntary separation packages without the union’s involvement.
The union further demands that the retrenchment agreement takes precedence and such provisions be unconditionally adhered to.
“We further demand for an audience with the Chinese senior management of CNUC with the view of ascertaining that. If indeed Rössing intends to initiate retrenchments it should do so in line with set procedures as outlined in the Labour Act,” Ampweyasaid.
He encouraged MUN members to remain resolute in pursuit of an amicable consensus with management.