Eveline de Klerk
SWAKOPMUND – Retrenched employees of Langer Heinrich Uranium mine, that is listed for care and maintenance in August have accused the uranium mine of offering them peanut severance packages, while they are facing a bleak future without jobs.
About 317 employees being retrenched, on Tuesday marched and handed over a petition to the mine’s management in Swakopmund to demand for the current negotiation team of the mine to be replaced with people that can conduct themselves ethically and will have their interests at heart.
Langer Heinrich employs about 600 people and indicated it will only need a skeleton staff of 20 for the care and maintenance of the mine post-retrenchment.
Employees were offered a mere one week severance and a month notice pay, the minimum as per the Labour Act and this has not gone well with the soon-to-be retrenched workers at Langer Heinrich.
The offer was made on May 21 and was initially not negotiable, however, the Mine Workers Union (MUN) Branch Executive Committee at the mine literally had to beg the company to renegotiate the offer.
Speaking on behalf of the employees, a disappointed, Vivian Kaula said that the company after the union intervened offered them two months’ notice pay and a week’s severance pay.
“The deal was only on the table for two hours. After intervention by the union they changed the offer to two months and one week severance pay,” he said.
According to Kaula, the mine then lodged a dispute for reconciliation with the Labour Commissioner while they, the employees were seeking a mandate on this offer.
“They did so while negotiations are still ongoing. This only reflects the unethical and unprofessional conduct of the company’s negotiation team,” Kaula explained.
Kaula says they want the dispute to be withdrawn by the company as it is premature and they also want the negotiation team to be changed and the company to reconsider its severance package.
Workers also accused the Managing Director of the mine, Michael Itrona for misleading and promising them job security and that he had promised the resources were enough if retrenchments occurred.
“You sold us dreams Itrona and we do not take kindly to this. Today we stand before you, joined by our wives, children and families. We have acquired cars, houses and study loans. What will happen to all these?” moaned the workers in unison as they face a bleak future.
They gave the company three days to respond to their demands.
Johan Roux, the Manager of Human Resource upon receiving the petition said he will forward it to the relevant