Eveline de Klerk SWAKOPMUND - The deafening silence by the government on the Langer Heinrich uranium mine saga that will see at least 600 employees retrenched is not sitting well with the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) in Erongo Region. Langer Heinrich mine management, who last month announced the mine will go on care and maintenance due to plummeting global uranium prices, is being criticised by employees and unionists for their decision that would only see 20 employees re-employed. The feeling on the ground is that care and maintenance should have been the last resort after all avenues were exhausted by the mine. Langer Heinrich started mining 10 years ago. Coastal union leaders on Wednesday morning marched to the Erongo governor Cleophas Mutjavikua’s office demanding the government pronounces itself on the issue. Speaking on behalf of the mine workers the chairman of the MUN Rössing mine branch, Johannes Hamutenya, said the government by now should have already suggested acquisition of the mine instead of accepting mine management putting it on care and maintenance. “Shareholders of the mine should have been ordered to sell to willing investors or have their mining licence revoked by the Ministry of Mines and Energy. Care and maintenance should not be an option at all,” he said. Hamutenya said it is uncalled for that an operation as big as Langer Heinrich can make such a decision that directly compromises the social and financial well-being of their employees. “Yet government cites business as usual. Hence, we are registering our dissatisfaction with regard to the government’s silence and not having the interest of the affected employees at heart. Employers are not held accountable as they are not adhering to basic conditions of employment and nothing has been done to address this,” he said. The unionist was disappointed with the retrenchment packages for employees “that have not been done in good faith”. “For the sake of employees we want the government to intervene and force the mine to be sold and kept in operation. They should also recall all notices sent to employees as well as to the labour commissioner,” he said. Hamutenya also wants its mining licence revoked and that six months’ notice payout, three weeks salary for every year served, four months medical aid and relocation payouts be awarded to all staff. Meanwhile, Mutjavikua yesterday afternoon after the petition handover met with the management of the mine and unionists to address the issue and map a way forward so that negotiations can at least be done in a peaceful manner.
2018-06-07 10:00:43 3 months ago