By John Ekongo
Government intervention appears to be the only solution to the labour unrest that has been going on at the LLD Diamond and Polishing Company for more than two weeks now.
About 153 suspended LLD Namibia diamond polishers have been picketing in an around-the-clock protest against the company since 19 June, rapping the company for poor labour relations, unfair treatment and poor wages.
What initially started as a protest against abusive managers as labelled by the striking workers has morphed into a full-scale industrial action, albeit illegal, given that the right procedure to call for a strike were not followed as per agreement between the workers’ representative, the Mine Workers Union of Namibian (MUN) and LLD management.
It is because of this development that the LLD management considered firing all striking employees, citing it as an illegal strike.
Last Wednesday workers were informed to collect notice letters to appear before a disciplinary hearing, which could lead to sacking. The workers declined to attend and are yet to receive outcomes of the disciplinary hearing.
It is unclear at this moment whether the 153 are fired or not, as LLD management could not divulge more information.
New Era has learnt from the striking workers that the union was soliciting the presence of the labour ministry to mediate between the two parties.
The workers added, “We are aware that some of our colleagues inside want to come out but fear that we might not welcome them. They are welcome to join us.”
Talks between the MUN and LLD management to find a solution broke down last Wednesday after both parties could not agree on the legitimacy of the strike.
Over time the 19 June strike has stirred international solidarity and condemnation from civic societies and labour bodies globally.
Key critics such as New York-based Adalah-NY Coalition of Coalition for Justice in the Middle East in cooperation with the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign National Committee, a wide coalition of the largest Palestinian mass organisations, trade unions, networks and organisations, have been campaigning against Lev Leviev’s companies.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has also joined the chorus of condemnations.
“The Congress of South African Trade Unions pledges its support for the 153 diamond polishers employed by the Lev Leviev Diamond (LLD) Polishing Company in Windhoek, Namibia, who have been on strike since 19 June to protest abusive managers as well as job appraisals and promotions, wages and outstanding overtime.”
“Cosatu urges unions and all other social justice groups to send messages of protest to LLD management, demanding that the strikers not be fired and that their demands be met,” read a Cosatu statement.
The anti-LLD campaign, initiated by Adalah-NY, seems to be bearing fruit as UNICEF announced on 20 June that it would no longer accept donations from Leviev, which followed a similar decision by Oxfam International.
Both the union and MUN were not available for comment.