Rössing Miners Down Tools

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Operations at RÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¶ssing Uranium Mine ground to a halt this week when about 400 employees downed tools over a pay dispute. Workers vowed to only return to work after management complies with their demands. On Monday, RÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¶ssing employees held a peaceful demonstration and handed over a petition to the Acting General Manager of Corporate Services, Noel Mouton. In their petition, the workers want management to look at the salary review structure. Chairman of Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN), Ismael Kasuto, said in September last year RÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¶ssing Uranium Mine engaged the services of a consultant to assess the salary structure in the mining industry. Without consulting with the MUN, the mine implemented a new salary structure based on its findings. According to Kasuto, the implemented salary structure only benefited, to a lesser extent, about 133 out of 1ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 089 workers at the world’s largest opencast uranium mine. “The salary structure review exercise was initiated and implemented unilaterally by the company without consultation or agreement with the union prior to its implementation in September 2007,” read the petition. Kasuto describes negotiations between the two parties as having been retrogressive rather than progressive. In the petition, workers similarly accuse the mine of applying a retrogressive strategy in addressing the concerns of the workers. They warned that this strategy would not make them withdraw their position. Workers are demanding that management urgently addresses the long services award initiative. In 2006, the union proposed that the mine introduces a rewarding initiative that would work as a form of compensation or motivation for long serving employees. To date, the mine has not informed the union on what management decided, Kasuto said. Protestors also allege that in some areas, remuneration packages are not structured in line with the workers’ qualifications and experience. “There are artisans that are getting more than others not because they are more experienced,” explained Kasuto. Management was also called to speedily address the holiday bonus requirement when in need especially during bereavement. According to Kasuto, the mine took a decision to erase the bonus with effect from March 1. RÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¶ssing Mine in a media release issued on Tuesday said it would engage in negotiations with the mineworkers starting yesterday. The mine is situated 65 kilometres east of Swakopmund. It has a daily production capacity of between 80ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 and 100ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 tonnes of ore.