Skorpion Zinc Mine yesterday said it had reached an agreement with the Mineworkers’ Union of Namibia (MUN) and that employees who were on strike are back working twelve hours a day, instead of nine hours.
This follows four weeks of industrial action involving almost 400 workers, which reportedly cost the mine N$26 million after the workers resorted to working nine-hour shifts, instead of 12 hours.
Skorpion and MUN have since resolved the main bone of contention, which was the workers’ demand to work nine-hour shifts. It was agreed that the workers would work 12-hour shifts for seven days a week and then take seven days off after completing the seven-day shift.
“Skorpion Zinc has reached a final settlement with union members, who had embarked on industrial action on July 20 to protest against working hours, the corporate affairs manager, of Vedanta which owns the mine, Nora Ndopu said yesterday.
Skorpion Zinc and MUN reached an agreement, which includes a payment of N$13 million to all employees over 3 years, she said. The company also agreed to increase the shift allowance for employees performing continuous operations within the bargaining unit from 10 percent to 13 percent.
“We are delighted to have finally been able to find some common ground and reach a settlement. This has been a frustrating few weeks, but we have continued to work tirelessly to find a solution in the best interests of the company and all its stakeholders,” said Lance Williamson, acting general manager at Skorpion Zinc.
Furthermore, the parties also reached agreement on the issue of the company applying the ‘no work, no pay’ policy for the hours lost during the recent industrial action.
This means employees will not be paid for hours not worked, however the deductions will be spread over a 3-month period to reduce the impact, whilst simultaneously the workers will have an opportunity to recover lost income through an additional bonus scheme.
“The company has maintained that employees will not be paid for hours not worked. The ‘no work, no pay’ principle is in accordance with labour laws and is a universal principle, but management has offered the employees an opportunity to recover the lost income through a bonus scheme over the next 2.5 months. This scheme is in addition to the existing bonus scheme,” said Williamson.
Skorpion Zinc will also sign on 120 continuous operation employees at the mine, currently working as contractors to become permanent staff from the date of receipt of the exemption, should the application be successful.
“The union and the management have always had a very good relationship, but somehow we misunderstood each other on this. We are glad everything is resolved and all operators can go back to work.” said MUN branch chairperson, Peter Shaumbwa.
“This settlement is extremely important and will ensure we can get back to full production in the next few days. We hope to work back the lost production by employing a number of efficiencies to ensure we can claw back the losses.
We are grateful to all stakeholders in particular [the Ministry of Labour] who facilitated discussions at critical points,” Williamson said.