Mass retrenchment to cost 300 jobs at Rio Tinto

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Windhoek

Close to 300 employees at Rössing Uranium Mine face retrenchment should plans by the company to consolidate the management of onsite sub-contractors go ahead.

This is after the mining giant urged all companies it subcontracted for work on its uranium mine to merge in a move aimed at cutting costs, New Era understands. Workers that are set to lose jobs include fine crushers, conveyer maintenance workers and primary crushers, among others.

The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) has slammed the apparent plans by the mining giant, saying the move will undermine national growth. MUN Rössing branch chairperson Abiud Kapere last week told New Era the union is deeply concerned about Rössing’s current initiative to outsource the management of onsite contractor companies to foreign-based companies under the pretext of consolidation of management.

Kapere said that the message Rössing is sending to the country at large is that Namibians are incapable of managing affairs from within the country’s borders. “Rössing has been bragging about spending millions of Namibian dollars on an education programmes. Was this programme a white elephant, or why are we not supporting our own professionals to lead Namibia to a new horizon?” Kapere asked.

He said in his view Rössing is promoting the empowerment of South African-based companies.

“It is unspeakable that we establish another foreign-based camp, whilst we can’t manage the current. Painfully, this new strategic approach is designed to empower foreign-based companies rather than empowering Namibians as part of Namibia’s mineral beneficiation processes,” he added.

According to him, foreign-based companies that supply services to Rössing and who are allegedly earmarked to take over the works of Namibian firms include FL Smith, C&E Engineering and IAP.

He said unskilled and experienced local contractors that have been loyal and have been doing work for 10 to 20 years are no longer good enough in the eyes of the new management of Rössing. He added that some workers were told to vacate their premises, as their roles are to be taken over by the South Africans.

Kapere says efforts by the government to change the living conditions of Namibians by empowering them are being undermined by Rio Tinto, as they are doing the complete opposite of what the country aspires to.

The MUN “is throwing its weight behind the Namibian government’s plan to empower and upskill the local market, and we strongly condemn Rössing’s systematic plundering of revenues generated from Namibian minerals through the empowerment of foreign-based companies,” he said. “The conniving to outsource essential services to foreign-based companies is affecting job security and only benefits those that have close links to the arrangements made to benefit the elite South African companies,” he added.

At the time of going to print, Rössing’s corporate communication manager, Ellis Botha, had not replied to questions sent to him on Wednesday last week. Rössing Uranium Mine near Arandis in the Erongo Region, which went into operation in 1974 is the oldest open pit uranium mine in Namibia and one of the largest in the world.

 

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