Salt-strike successfully mediated

namib times 31 July 2015

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

Intervention from the Erongo Governor, Cleophas Mutjavikua and also President Hage Geingob, saw the four week long strike at Walvis Bay Salt Holdings come to an end this week, after the workers and company managed to reach an amicable agreement.

Both the company and the employees’ bargaining unit,

the Mine Workers Union of Namibia (MUN), yesterday expressed their sincere gratitude to the Governor for facilitating this agreement. President Geingob, who visited the harbour town this week, reportedly told the Governor to sit down and keep discussing the matter with the two parties until an agreement was reached. In financial terms, the strike has been costly to all stakeholders, including the country, the company and the employees.

The strike initially started after the workers accused the company’s management of a discriminatory salary structure, illegal reduction of leave days and illegal reduction of medical aid, as their main concerns.

At the two-day meeting with the Governor as arbitrator it was established that the allegations of salary discrimination proved to be unjustified, and no adjustments in this regard were made as part of the agreement.

The agreement ensures that employees will receive an annual basic salary increase of 6,5% for 2015.

The annual wage increase will be backdated to 1 March 2015.  A means for a salary progression mechanism was also agreed upon, and adjustments relating to this will be backdated to 1 May 2015. Previous conditions, laid down by the company, which initially infuriated the employees, were set aside and are not enclosed in the signed agreement. MUN Branch Chairman, Mr Nelson Ja-

tamunua yesterday noted that some of the technical staff already resumed work yesterday, with the rest of the employees due to start work on Monday.

He noted that a rehabilitation programme should be put in place, as tension between the employees and management were still looming, and the fear of victimisation against workers who participated in the strike does exist.

However, Jatamunua expressed their satisfaction with the reached agreement. He told namib times that the loss in salary of the workers was in the region of N$2 million, while the loss to the company could be as much as N$24 million.

He said the agreement might in one or two instances, have delivered less than an initial offer from the company, but that in other instances they found it to be better.

He said they had a marathon sitting onn Tuesday, and still two outstanding issues were discussed on Wednesday morning before the agreement was reached and signed.

He said for 2016 they would receive an Inflationary (CPI) increase on basic salary.

In a press release, forwarded by Walvis Bay Salt Holdings yesterday, the managing director, Mr Andre Snyman, says “the Company’s directors and management are pleased that the parties could come to an amicable resolution, and wishes to acknowledge the contributions made by various authorities and go-

vernment officials to enable this final settlement.

In particular, the company wishes to express its gratitude to the Governor of the Erongo Region, Honour-

able Cleophas Mutjavikua, who facilitated and eventually brought the parties to agreement remarks that the company’s immediate focus will be to ensure a safe return of all employees to a normal working environment.”

According to the press release, in total two export vessel orders had to be declined, amounting to a loss in revenue to the country in excess of N$15 million.

Snyman also remarked that as the business moves forward, the Company’s priorities will be to provide strong leadership and rebuild corporate cohesion.

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