Purity Manganese suspends half its workforce

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WINDHOEK – Israeli-owned Purity Manganese (Pty) Ltd recently suspended – without pay – 121 out of its workforce of 240 pending the outcome of an investigation on allegations of misconduct.

Mine Workers Union of Namibia (MUN), secretary general Eben Zarondo confirmed the suspension yesterday saying the charges levelled against the suspended employees were desertion, participating in an illegal strike, assault or attempted assault, gross insubordination, intimidation, major breach of contracts, using insulting, abusive or racial language or behaviour.

The suspended employees also face a charge of adopting an insolent attitude towards management and failing to comply with any policy or procedure.

In suspension letters distributed to workers last week Friday, the company instructed the affected workers to immediately return all keys and other critical equipment that belong to the company to their supervisors.
Units affected are those of production, mechanics, warehouse, lab, kiosks, sanitation, maintenance, construction and electrical.

“It has become a norm with foreign companies in this country to abuse workers knowing that if taken to court the case will take forever to resolve and by the time the case is solved the company has left the country,” stated the unionist.

Zarondo called on labour courts to speed up cases so that cases can be finalised sooner.
“In this case, you might find out that this company is bankrupt and they are trying to use the legal loophole before they disappear,” he added.

The unionist said MUN is currently consulting its lawyers to handle the matter.

Purity Manganese is no stranger to controversy, as late last year workers took to the streets complaining about late payment of salaries. The company has also been accused of providing poor living conditions.

In 2013, a disgruntled mine worker Immanuel Shilongo wrapped himself with what looked like an explosive, apparently wrapped around his waist Taliban-style and threatened to blow up the entire mine if his demands for better accommodation facilities and transport were not met.

Furthermore, last year the company was also accused of employing unskilled Indians in jobs that can be performed by Namibians.

Contacted for comment on Wednesday, the company executive manager Asi Eretz, said he could not comment on the matter saying it was an internal matter.

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