Diamond Workers Okay New Deal

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) and Lev Leviev Diamonds (LLD) yesterday announced a final review of the initially rejected contracts by workers of the diamond polishing and cutting company. Towards the end of July 2006, about 400 workers laid down their tools after the company took a decision to permanently employ 356 workers. However, the employees had disagreed with the conditions that were attached to their contracts and staged a two-day demonstration. Secretary General of MUN Joseph Hengari informed a press briefing yesterday that the two parties had engaged in two weeks’ extensive deliberations to reach an amicable solution. The changes made to the original contracts entail that the contracts address issues contemplated in the Namibian law and constitution of the country. The revised contracts, Hengari added, are user-friendly and also provide protection to the basic rights of employees. “Parties are satisfied that the contracts are clear and fully address the rights of both the employees and the employers,” he said. Last Friday, MUN and LLD Diamonds Namibia addressed workers on the changes that have been made to the contracts and according to Hengari, the workers are now satisfied. The 356 workers who are members of MUN have already started signing their contracts. In their petition to management last month, workers demanded a basic salary of N$3 500 and payment for overtime, Sunday and public holiday work. Yesterday, Hengari could not reveal what the agreed salary would be for these workers, stating that this remains confidential just like any other workers’ pay issue. “Although it was not supposed to form part of the consultations, LLD and MUN discussed the salary issue. We want to create a stable environment in the industry and keep salaries almost at the same level as in the industry in general,” Managing Director of LLD Diamonds Kombadayedu Kapwanga said. Hengari explained that as a norm in the diamond sector, 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. For the past two years, LLD Diamonds has engaged about 500 young Namibians in diamond cutting and polishing. Three-hundred-and-fifty-six of these temporary employees were identified to take up permanent posts and based on that, the management informed its employees that the permanent positions would add to their package benefits associated with permanent employment and thus they (the workers) were given time to study the contracts. Kapwanga says LLD Diamonds is committed to rewarding its employees according to their abilities, especially those who are highly productive. The company intends training yet another 120 young Namibians in cutting and polishing the precious stones as the factory is expected to have at least 500 permanent workers.

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