Salt-strike intensifies

namib tmes 17 july 2015

12 June Namib Times 1-12 (00000002) -salt

Reporter: Marshallino Beukes

“Union successfully opposed company’s urgent court application”

With the strike of approximately 170 employees at Walvis Bay Salt Holdings still continuing, the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) Walvis Bay Salt Holdings Branch has successfully opposed an urgent court application, instituted by Walvis Bay Salt Refineries.

The MUN sent out a press release in this regard, noting that “the Company lost the case with costs, due to the fact that the applicant being the Walvis Bay Salt Refineries, was not the one which the dispute was declared against, being Walvis Bay Salt Holdings (Case no: 97 / 15). They further remarked that the strike continues and the spirit and demands of the employees remain intact.

According to them the collective action was prompted by all failed attempts by the Trade Union to get its dispute addressed in a fair, equitable, practical and cost effective manner. The alleged reluctance of the company to adopt principles of transparency and fairness in its application of the Company Salary Structure, is also one of their main reasons for the strike.

The statement reads that Walvis Bay Salt Holdings did not make any attempt, nor demonstrated its willingness to redress the perceived salary discrimination, except putting restrictive and prescriptive principle conditions in their cross pollinated draft agreement in the context such as:

“1. In principal, the affected employees to pay for the damages they suffered i.e. the Company want to get this rectified at no cost or minimal cost to Company.

  1. Whatever is agreed on should be the ever end about Salary discrimination i.e. no future claims of such nature but the Company doesn’t commit not to implement such practices ever again in future, nor demonstrating in wanting to change such discriminatory system or behaviour.
  2. Promoting deliberate salaries anomalies by making deliberate attempts of systematic migration of workers from current placement within the bandwidth for them to migrate to or beyond maximum of their grade at no additional cost to company, hence the proposed distorted increments to move people beyond the maximum with no monetary benefits.”

The Union demands that the Company must demonstrate its intent to redress the supposed discrimination.

“We shall not heed to the capitalist mentality of exploitation through systematic discriminatory practices for now or the future as a point of departure, we demand a fair, equitable, transparent and consistent salary structure,” the media statement continues. The Union and striking workers also noted that they are committed to comply with the strike rules.

The company’s management instituted the court application after striking workers allegedly tampered with company property (electricity and pumps) amongst other. In a notice to all staff members (in namib times’ possession), Walvis Bay Salt Holdings’s Managing Director, Mr Andre Snyman, warns that “employees who have made, or continues to breach the strike rules and the disciplinary code, will be subjected to disciplinary action, and if found guilty, might face dismissal.”

A 32-page affidavit (also in namib times’ possession), submitted by Mr Snyman, notes that if this matter is heard in the ordinary course, it would probably only be heard by the end of this year. He noted that the losses and damages the company will suffer, should the application be brought in the normal course, would be substantial and probably impossible to recover.

The behaviour of the striking workers is according to the affidavit becoming “very unpredictable and radical.” Picketing outside the agreed strike area, unpermitted and unauthorised movement onto the premises and intimidating of employees who do not participate in the strike is some of the said unlawful practises taking place, according to Mr Snyman’s affidavit.

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