• March 26th, 2019
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Mineworkers strike over unfair labour practices


Aletta Shikololo

WINDHOEK - Basil  Read Mining employees at Rosh Pinah and Tsumeb have levelled allegations of unfair labour practices and the payment of wages based on race, against the  firm’s top management.
Basil Read Mining is a South African company operating in Namibia and is contracted by other mining companies including  Scorpion Zinc Mine at Rosh Pinah and Weatherly Mining Company in Tsumeb. The company does blasting and excavation work.

Basil Read Mining employees at Scorpion Zinc Mine downed tools on Monday and staff at Weatherly mine went on strike on Tuesday because of the alleged racism and unfair labour practices.

Speaking to New Era a shop steward from the mine at Rosh Pinah said they went on strike because of unfair labour practices by their employers. Allegations are that there is a discrepancy in wages, racism at the workplace and unfair dismissals whenever they have questioned why whites draw bigger salaries for similar jobs done by their black counterparts.

He said: “The problem arose when our pay slips were put on the notice board and that’s how we found out that all the whites in the company have higher salaries than blacks even those that are doing the same job as blacks. Some white mechanical artisans get N$40 000 while black mechanical artisans get N$10 000. And there is certain white cleaner that gets paid N$11 000. Some white machine operators get paid N$20 000 while black machine operators get N$8 000.”
Apart from the salaries difference he also mentioned that the pay roll clerk is currently suspended because of the pay slips displayed on the notice board. 

He further complained that white people get night allowance despite the fact they apparently do not work night shift, while black employees that work night shifts are ironically denied a night allowance.

“The points amongst others are that the management is being disrespectful and unethical, workers are being handpicked, salary to whites is way on top even though some of them report to black superiors, pensions are outstanding and people are being fired almost every day,” complained one of the employees
 at Weatherly mine.

He said one of the contract managers among the top managers also treats black workers unfairly and has no qualification, nor does she understand English well and only speaks Afrikaans.

A retrenched employee at Weatherly complained that when he was retrenched he did not receive any pension and whenever he tries to call the managers, they ignore his calls and ignore his text messages.
He further gave an example of a newly recruited white worker who recently finished his studies and was appointed as the supervisor of the mechanical department. 

He said it is unfair because there are experienced workers who have been in the company for long and they are qualified, but they don’t understand why he was appointed as supervisor.

Workers also alleged that management tells employees they are useless and they can replace them with others.
A shop steward at Weatherly said they are required to mine a certain tonnage but whenever they reach this target one of the managers then sets a much higher target, depriving them of production bonuses.

He further complained of low wages and that they work for 12 hours including night shift, they are not given torches when working at night and some work in a cold environment but are not given jackets.

“Imagine working at night with no torch and we are not allowed to use our phones in case the machine breaks. We work for long hours but they don’t allow us to go buy food outside the workplace and they don’t give us lunch. We are truly being discriminated against,” lamented a miner.

Basil Read employees further complained they have been suffering this situation for the past five years without any assistance despite the fact they catalogued their grievances to relevant officials.
New Era called the contract manager Sonia Oates and the human resource officer Newman Kambuku at Weatherly but they both said they were not allowed to speak to the media.
Efforts to get comment from Scorpion Zinc also drew a 
blank.


Staff Reporter
2019-02-28 09:58:30 26 days ago

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