By: ADAM HARTMAN, 04.03.2011, The Namibian A COURT order was issued yesterday against striking Basil Read mine construction workers at Rössing Uranium’s mine entrance.
On Monday, disgruntled workers of one of Rössing Uranium’s biggest contractors handed a petition to their management in which they asked for an increase from three to four shifts, and for money allegedly owed to them for extra work done (totalling about 195 hours). Basil Read Mining Namibia and its sister company, B&E Namibia, yesterday obtained an urgent interdict from the Labour Court in Windhoek against the Mineworkers Union of Namibia and 208 of the companies’ striking employees. In the interdict, the union and the striking workers are ordered to stop “any strike, picket or any other form of industrial action” at or near the mine premises or the two companies’ premises until the union and the workers have complied with the Labour Act’s provisions on the declaration of an industrial dispute and the conduct of strike action. In affidavits filed with the Labour Court the two companies allege that the strike is illegal and is costing them about N$1 million in lost income each day. MUN branch executive Immanuel Hangula said they were aware of the court order but “advised” Basil Read’s management to “nullify” it in the best interest of both parties. The workers downed tools and picketed at Rössing Uranium’s mine entrance until Wednesday. Yesterday, they moved from the mine’s premises and continued their strike at the Basil Read premises at Arandis. According to Hangula, that was one of the conditions set in the court order, while another was that the workers must return to work, but may be disciplined too. “This is not constructive, and in order to come to an amicable agreement where both parties will benefit, we suggested that the management withdraw this order. The Erongo Governor was also informed of this today (Thursday),” he told The Namibian. He said if the order was nullified, the workers would return to work, on condition that they were assured that negotiations regarding their demands would continue. “A memorandum of understanding has already been prepared, where the workers will agree to return to work, but then they must not be victimised,” Hangula said. “For the interest of both the management and the workers, drastic negotiations must continue.” MUN General Secretary Jonas Lumbu is also in the region and allegedly caucusing with Basil Read, as well as executive management of Basil Read, who apparently came from South Africa to be part of the negotiations.