LLD to Review Workers’ Contracts

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Following labour unrest last week at the diamond cutting and polishing firm Lev Leviev Diamonds (LLD), management has promised to review the contracts of its workers before the end of this month. Managing Director of the Israeli-based LLD Diamonds Namibia Kombadayedu Kapwanga revealed that the 400 workers who laid down tools last Friday were back at work. “Everything is back to normal. We will review their contracts by August 21, 2006,” he said. Last week Thursday, about 120 workers staged a demonstration demanding that their contracts be reviewed. The following day saw an increase in the number of demonstrators. The unrest came after the LLD management announced its intention to permanently employ most of its temporary workers who have for the past two years been on training. About 500 young Namibians have for the past two years engaged in diamond cutting and polishing. Kapwanga explained that management felt that most of these temporary employees were ripe to take up permanent posts. Based on that, the management informed its employees that the permanent positions will add to their package benefits associated with permanent employment and thus they (workers) were given time to study the contracts. Kapwanga revealed that as a norm in the diamond industry, employees are paid on remuneration per production per carat. This, he added, includes a minimum production per day or per month. Employees are expected to produce to earn the basic salary. The contracts given to them clearly explain the minimum production criteria that will enable one to earn a basic salary, he said. “The contracts were explained in full by the management to the employees and it was felt that all were satisfied.” Last week Thursday, the workers handed in a petition demanding that they want a basic salary of N$3 500 and payment for overtime, Sunday and public holiday work. According to Kapwanga, the demands in the petition show that some employees want to get a basic salary without reaching the minimum required production criteria. “These are employees who want to come and polish zero stone per month and still want to get the basic salary for sitting at the polishing bench – in short to get a free lunch,” Kapwanga added. He says LLD diamonds is committed to rewarding its employees according to their abilities, especially those who are giving high productivity.