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Namibia: Workers' march to the headquarters of the Uranium Group

180530namibiaEmployees of the Langer Heinrich Uranium (LHU) mine have expressed dissatisfaction with how negotiations were handled when the majority of them were laid off recently when the mine was mothballed.

The placard-carrying employees marched from the Mondesa taxi rank to the LHU head office in the industrial area of Swakopmund. The local branch chairman of the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN), Paulus Iipumbu, handed over a petition listing their grievances to the mine management.

“The Langer Heinrich Uranium Mine branch executive committee of the Mineworkers Union of Namibia, duly mandated to negotiate on behalf of the majority of those employed at your establishment, herewith registers its disappointment and dissatisfaction with the manner in which the company has approached this really serious and equally sensitive issue of care and maintenance decision. Despite having an active recognition and procedural agreement the company instead elected to address a memo to the union and has not necessarily attempted to engage the union prior to this decision.

“The company is negotiating in bad faith, it is therefore that we demand that the company's negotiation team be changed to individuals that conduct themselves ethically and have a bilateral interest at heart,” the petition read.

“Prior to this decision of mine closure, several rumours were circulating around the mine of possible retrenchments or imminent closure of the mine and the branch executive committee did request in writing to discuss this matter during late last year and it was you, Michael Introna (the managing director), during your engagements with the workers who promised that job security was guaranteed at LHU.

This had thus created the expectation of job security.

“Today we stand here, Michael Introna, all 317 of us joined by our wives, children, mothers and fathers. Address us. We have acquired cars, houses and study loans for children,” said Iipumbu.

The union demanded that the company's negotiating team be changed to accommodate individuals “who have the interest of the workers at heart”. It wanted to resume negotiations on the company's offer of severance payment.

Managing director Michael Introna received the petition and promised to respond as soon as possible.