By John Ekongo
Managing Director of LLD Diamonds Namibia, Kombadayedu Kapwanga, accompanied by the company’s Operations Director, Clarky McKay, on Thursday met President Hifikepunye Pohamba at State House to brief him about the industrial action that has dogged the company since June 19.
Also on the agenda was an appeal to the President for advice, with reference to what they label political involvement in the company’s affairs by Swapo Party Youth League. A day after the commencement of the strike senior office bearers of the youth wing lent their support to the striking workers – a stance LLD says was unwarranted and unbecoming, as the youth league had no mandate to do so.
Those in attendance at Thursday’s meeting were the Permanent Secretary of the Labour and Social Welfare Ministry, Ulitala Hiveluah, Labour Commissioner Bro Mathew Shinguandja, Presidential Advisor for Economic Affairs, Leevi Hungamo, and Diamond Commissioner Kennedy Hamutenya. The notable absentee was the Mine Workers Union (MUN) of Namibia.
The strike since then has been declared illegal and subsequently all 153 employers have been dismissed. Again on Thursday it was heard that the strike was illegal and the blame should be put squarely on the hands of the union for instigating the workers.
Minutes of the meeting in possession of New Era reveal that Hiveluah, Shinguandja and Hamutenya blame the Secretary General of MUN, Joseph Hengari, as being the hampering factor.
Hamutenya, attending the meeting on the President’s invitation, informed the meeting that MUN is not the right body to represent the diamond polishing and cutting industry. He commented that ever since the MUN aided a similar strike in 2004 by another diamond and cutting outfit Namgem, a Namdeb subsidiary, it believed that it was now the right body to represent the industry.
This, according to Hamutenya, has brought along “outrageous demands by the union whenever negotiating basing their demands on the Paterson Grading System”, a situation he says might drive the industry to its knees.
Should this continue, Government intervention might be needed if the industry is to be sustained.
Pohamba, on his part, acknowledged the meeting but said he is not in a position to offer any recommendation until he has consulted with various stakeholders.
Meanwhile, New Era has learnt that at a closed-door mediation meeting between the Office of the Labour Commissioner, Branch Executive Committee (BEC) and the company, Shinguandja appealed that the union inform their members to cease camping at the grounds as it poses a health hazard.
LLD has in the past blamed mining giants De Beers for the unequal distribution of diamonds for polishing and its unwillingness to allow LLD to buy diamonds from it.
This is said to have impacted negatively on the operations of the company.
Meantime the company is forging ahead with its disciplinary hearing against the workers.