By Desie Heita
LLD Diamonds is asking the Mineworkers Union of Namibia to officially acknowledge that the ongoing industrial strike is beyond the scope provided by the two’s recognition agreement and the Labour Act. However, although in agreement with LLD Diamonds, the union is not willing to agree in writing.
“In the eyes of the law, the strike is illegal but the union has decided not to officially acknowledge that,” said LLD Diamonds Mana-ging Director, Kombadayedu Kapwanga.
This is besides the fact that, said Kapwanga, the General Secretary of the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN), Bro Joseph Hengari, “washed his hands [in a meeting with management] of the matter, as it seemed the leaders of the workers are doing what they want”.
A group of 251 workers, out of 401 employees at LLD Diamonds, are in an industrial stay-away, camping close to the company’s premises.
In the meantime, the company is providing physical protection for the 150 workers who chose not to participate in the strike, following cases of intimidation and near physical violence. The workers are transported to and from work.
Unlike with many industrial strikes that search for the attainment of better wages, salaries and benefits from employers, this strike is a peculiar one.
It seeks not the betterment of employee benefits but the exclusion of a company legal representative from a consultative meeting between the employer and the employees. Unable to have their way, the workers have resorted to a stay-away until the management gives in to the demand.
“Employees feel that the presence of a lawyer is forever delaying and prolonging the meeting … if nothing is done about the presence of the lawyer they will take a step further to go on a strike. Whatever comes the employees are ready to face the consequences regarding the matter (sic)”, employees wrote to management on June 18.
“It is regrettable that our employees had to take the route they did while the company was in a position to sit down for discussions. Unfortunately, our young men and women seem to have been wrongly influenced by the union,” said Kapwanga.
LLD Diamonds is going to apply a disciplinary hearing to all the 251 workers “and if found guilty they might face severe penalties including possible dismissals”.