Rosh Pinah Strikers ‘Gain Something’

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By Mbatjiua Ngavirue WINDHOEK The just ended two-week strike at Rosh Pinah zinc/lead mine seems to have produced a happy ending, with both parties to the dispute declaring their satisfaction with the outcome of negotiations. The strike ended after lengthy negotiations at Rosh Pinah on Friday, which resulted in a 10% wage increase for those on the lower grades and 8% for all other grades. The striking workers were demanding a 14% increase for employees on the grades seven and eight scale, 13% for workers on grades five and six and 12% for those on grades four and 4.1. Rosh Pinah was however only offering an eight percent increase for employees at the higher grades and nine percent for those on the lower scales. In the end those on the lower grades received a one-percentage-point higher increase than what the company was offering, while the rest will only receive what the company was offering right from the beginning. The workers won an additional concession on transport allowances for employees retiring from the mine. Rosh Pinah has agreed to pay workers leaving on normal or disability retirement an additional one month’s basic salary to help them cover transport costs. The Rosh Pinah branch chairperson of the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN), Petrus Dhiginineni Amakali, yesterday said he felt workers had gained something. “We have twisted their arm. They were so stingy they didn’t want to give any increase at all,” he said. During the strike Amakali pointed out that workers at Rosh Pinah were paid less than their counterparts employed by parent company Kumba Resources in South Africa. The lowest paid workers at Rosh Pinah, he said, receive N$2 100, while the lowest paid workers in South Africa are paid N$3 900. The Rosh Pinah workers lost almost two weeks’ pay during the strike as the company enforced a “no work, no pay” policy. But Amakali said the workers did not regret their decision to go on strike. “We were well aware that we might lose pay, but we were prepared to make that sacrifice. Sometimes you have to lose in order to gain something,” he said. Kumba Resources Manager for Corporate Affairs, Trevor Arran, said his company was very happy the strike was resolved. “We are happy that it was resolved in a way which is good for relationship-building, going forward,” he said. Arran said Kumba Resources embraced workers taking the action they did, because it is enshrined in both the South African and Namibian Labour Acts, provided strike action was only used as a last resort. “We have a strong relationship with MUN and hope to build on that relationship going forward,” he said.