Labour unrest lurking at Walvis Bay Salt Holdings

namib Times 12 June 2015

Tension is looming at Walvis Bay Salt Holdings (Pty) Ltd, with employees accusing the company’s management of a discriminatory salary structure, illegal reduction of leave days, illegal reduction of medical aid and also changing of shift hours.

In a letter addressed to the company’s Managing Director, Mr Andre Snyman, the Mine Workers Union of Namibia (MUN) at Walvis Bay Salt Holdings expressed their disappointment in the way the company conducted itself at a meeting between the two parties, last week Friday. At the said meeting they had discussions, in order to attempt to resolve the dispute of interest by Monday (8 June).

According to this letter (in namib time’s possession) the parties in principle agreed unconditionally on among other, that sa-lary adjustments per grade should be made. It was also supposedly conclu-

ded that a wage increment of 6.5% as the bargaining unit for this year should be instigated.

According to the MUN, additional conditions were

proposed by the company’s management, inclu-

ding a change of lunch time periods, whereby employees will be obliged to have their lunch time in different time-frames, to ensure continuous production. According to the workers union, they do not have a problem with this, but can however not accept any conditions, which might affect the workers negatively, on their behalf. Another of the company’s alleged conditions is the reduction of leave days from an average of 30 days per year to 25 days. The change of current shift hours is supposedly also a condition and the letter states that this change is to convenience management and inconvenience the workers who are putting the salt in the market.

One of the employee’s main concerns is the fact that the company allegedly aims to reduce their medical aid benefit by changing it to a fixed amount. This will crush the current medical aid benefit of 65:35 contribution ratio, the letter reads.

“It is common cause and admitted that the discrimination does exist in all grades, due to various factors such as race, ethnicity and favouritism in this modern Namibia at Walvis Bay Salt Holdings,” declares the MUN letter.

“As much as we want solutions and are willing to compromise, as workers we are not in a position to be party to the violation of the Condition of Employment in the form of a collective agreement as suggested in some of the Company conditional positions,” it is stated.

The MUN (Walvis Bay Salt Holdings branch) demands that the discriminatory practices be rectified and warn that they will not allow the “illegal” suggestions supposedly made by the company to disadvantage worker’s benefits further in “an attempt to correct a system they ne-ver benefited from.”

The newspaper contacted the Managing Director of Walvis Bay Salt Holdings, Mr Andre Snyman, for comment. He noted that at this stage, all he is able to say, is that the company is discussing the matters with the workers in order to find a solution which will benefit both parties.

Walvis Bay Salt Holdings (Pty) Ltd, through its various subsidiaries, is the largest producer of solar sea salt in sub-Saharan Africa. The group process 50 million tons of seawater to produce in excess of 700 000 tons of high-quality salt per annum. The total operation covers an area of 4 500ha.

The Group exports to various countries, including Nigeria, Cameroon, South Africa and Europe.

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