WALVIS BAY – Employees of the Langer Heinrich Uranium Mine, situated outside Swakopmund, are seeking the removal of the manager for human resources, Hein Daiber, on allegations of victimising employees as well as disregarding employees’ safety. They also accuse Daiber of implementing a new salary structure without union agreement.
The workers, through the Mineworkers’ Union of Namibia (MUN), are also demanding the removal of Langer Heinrich mine managing director, Simon Solomons. In a petition read to the media in front of the company’s office in Swakopmund this week, employees accused Solomons of total disregard for the union and bargaining unit, and as such they want him out.
About 60 permanent employees participated in the peaceful demonstration to hand over the petition.
Workers also said the mine never implemented recommendations made after the 2013 accident that claimed the life of a miner. Further, the workers allege that the mine does not have the safety of workers at heart. “Our members are exposed to safety hazards. The company does not properly investigate incidents at the mine,” reads the petition.
The workers also alleged that the removal of contract workers from the mine resulted in a lack of rest and increase in fatigue. “The use of buffs in the open pit for over four years is also another concern, as the company believes that it could prevent radioactive dust,” said the workers.
The petition was addressed to Solomons, but he was not available to receive it and neither were other management members.
“We will not let ourselves be discriminated against and exploited because of our employment status. This country was not liberated by academics. It is not a privilege but a right for Africans to work and make a living from their resources. We want investors who respect Namibians, and not treat us like slaves,” reads the petition.
“Foreigners do whatever they want here. They did not come here with uranium so they can go back where they came from. Government must intervene as the mine is operating in chaos,” said MUN’s regional organiser for Erongo, Kleophas Ngwena.
The workers also demand yearly bonuses, study assistance for every one and a company contribution of 80 percent towards their medical aid.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare was called upon to investigate the situation and find a solution.
Ngwena said the union gives Langer Heinrich seven days to respond, and failure to do so will see them raising the matter with the Office of the President.
Corporate Relations Manager at Langer Heinrich Uranium, Ratonda Murangi-Katjivikua, said the company would receive the petition and look into the allegations as soon as possible.
As for why nobody came to receive the petition, Murangi-Katjivikua said the company was informed about it at short notice on Monday. She said the company proposed to the union to meet management at the mine on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the issues.
– Additional reporting by Nampa