Rössing workers defy court order

This means that by this morning, the accumulated loss for the uranium giant as a result of the strike amounted to approximately N$22,5 million. In court papers filed at the High Court in Windhoek yesterday, the company’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), Mpho Mothoa, said Rössing has lost approximately N$2,5 million per shift. It has three shifts per day.
Although Mineworkers of Namibian (MUN) representative Ismael Kasuto yesterday afternoon said that the labour union will abide by the court order, he confirmed that workers have not resumed production.
Operations at the mine came to a halt early on Tuesday morning. Ever since then, workers have vowed not to return to work until they each get a N$30 000 payout based on this year’s production thus far.
They are furious because, allegedly, the company’s managing director pocketed a short-term incentive package of more than N$500 000, general managers more than N$400 000, managers more than N$240 000 and superintendents more than N$160 000 based on last year’s production. The bargaining unit employees received N$11 000 before tax.
Rössing Uranium spokesperson Jerome Mutumba yesterday afternoon also confirmed that workers had not gone back to work despite Damaseb’s order. He said they are exploring “all  options” in an attempt to force the employees to resume duty.
According to Mutumba, management was still hard at work late yesterday afternoon to try to find a solution.
All employees yesterday morning received notices in the company buses, informing them that “all buses carrying employees will not be allowed onsite and all occupants will be offloaded at the main entrance and only those going back to work will be allowed onsite.”
The notice by Mothoa further stated: “The company continues with the application of a no-work-no-pay principle as is stipulated in the Labour Act to striking employees.”
Striking workers however defied this instruction and barged into the mine’s premises and marched towards the offices of management where they camped out all day.
Mutumba did not want The Namibian to enter the premises yesterday morning, saying that he could not guarantee the reporter’s safety. “The situation is not normal and allowing you to go in would be irresponsible.”
Members of the Police’s Special Reserve Force were deployed on the premises yesterday. It is understood that they were on standby armed with AK47s and teargas.
Yesterday, it was reported that an attempt by Erongo Regional Governor, Cleophas Mutjavikua, on Wednesday to try and salvage the situation failed.
Should employees continue with the illegal strike today, it will be the fourth day   production will have been brought to a halt.
The MUN did not oppose Rössing Uranium’s application for a court order against the strike, the union’s lawyer, Charmaine van der Westhuizen, told Judge President Damaseb. She said the union did not sanction or condone the industrial action by the workers.
Ramon Maasdorp, instructed by the law firm G.F. Köpplinger Legal Practitioners, represented the mine during yesterday’s urgent application.
Earlier, Robin Sherbourne, an independent economist, warned that  the impact of the strike would be “significant”. He said: “It is the second largest employer after Namdeb. Rössing already made a loss last year, so this is big stuff.”

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