SPYL condemns Skorpion over pending mass retrenchments

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Matheus Hamutenya

Keetmanshoop-The Oranjemund district branch of Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) have denounced plans by Skorpion Zinc mine to retrench about 278 employees and outsource mining activities to a South African company, Basil Read.

The Rosh Pinah-based mine announced in February its plans to lay off employees in the mining department and outsource mining activities to Basil Read, citing the lack of heavy mining equipment needed to mine the large quantities of waste economically and within the required timeframe.

Oranjemund SPYL district secretary Linus Simon condemned the mine’s plans, saying that should the retrenchment process proceed as planned, it will not only result in job losses for many, but could also be seen as the continued exploitation of Namibian workers by foreign companies.

In a press statement last week, Simon said SPYL is aware of the reasons for the intended retrenchments, as communicated recently to the workers by the general manager, Irvinne Simataa, but was quick to debunk the statement by Simataa and said the youth wing is aware that despite the mine’s claim to need heavy equipment, Basil Read has not acquired any heavy machinery.

“We wish to discredit Mr Simataa’s statement and we hereby challenge him to provide any proof of any heavy mining machines acquired by Basil Read to date and provide Basil Read’s mine license to date” he said.

Simon explained that SPYL is well informed and understands that Basil Read has not acquired any heavy mining machinery, nor do they intend to do so, saying SPYL understands that the company intends to lease the mining machinery from Skorpion zinc, the same machinery the mine says are not at its disposal, which is its ostensible reason to retrench.

“It is, therefore, beyond our capacity to comprehend why the company would outsource its core business,” he said. He further said a failure to arrest the pending mass retrenchments would result in yet more exploitation of Namibians at the hands of capitalist multinational companies.

The Mineworkers Union of Namibia’s Skorpion Zinc branch chairperson, Petersen Kambinda, said although there have been extensive negotiations between the two parties and government, the meetings have not yielded any positive results yet, as both parties seem far from reaching consensus.

Confirming to New Era that another round of discussions were set for yesterday, which might be the final discussions before the effective date of the retrenchments, which is March 30, Kambinda indicated that he hopes the parties will finally reach an agreement.

He noted the importance of government in the negotiations, saying it is now up to the government to pronounce itself on the issue. “We expect the government to lead the company into the right direction. They are supposed to be taking people off the streets, not sending people to the streets,” he opined.

Kambinda further said the dispute should come to an end as soon as possible, for things to get back to normal, noting that the process has had a negative impact on the affected workers, both economically and emotionally.

“We expect this to come to an end, so we can get back to our normal lives. The workers’ lives have stalled and they are emotionally drained.”

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