Langer Heinrich hit by strikeBy: ADAM HARTMAN
PROGRESS on Expansion Phase Three of Langer Heinrich Uranium Mine came to a standstill on Monday after employees of the main contractor, Grinaker LTA, downed tools due to grievances related to impending layoffs.
According to a workers committee representative, more than 600 workers of the construction and engineering company stopped work on the mine site at noon on Monday – and continued to strike on Tuesday.
After company buses picked up the workers in Swakopmund to take to the mine on Tuesday, the drivers were instructed to go to a local taxi rank where all the workers had to meet and receive a “peace agreement” which they had to sign to assure Grinaker management that they would not strike again on the mine site.
“We decided en masse that we would not sign the agreement and that we would in fact just go home until the matter was resolved. In fact, we have been told that the buses will not take us to work for the next few days and that those being retrenched can expect their letters soon. In the meantime, Phase Three is standing still,” the representative told The Namibian.
According to him, Phase Three will end within the next two to three months, and management was already downscaling the workforce through the issuance of “retrenchment packages”, allegedly without negotiations.
“According to company procedures, contract workers retrenched should in fact get a month for every year worked. So if we are being retrenched, they should give us a month’s additional salary. They are, however, saying they don’t have the money, and that we should take it or leave it, which is just the normal pay and leave,” he explained. “There’s not even a appreciation bonus.”
Grinaker’s Construction Manager, Freddie Maritz, confirmed the strike and said that the Human Resources Team were working on the matter.
According to him, workers “are not being retrenched, and are therefore not receiving retrenchment packages”.
“They are working on a LDC (Limited Duration Contract), and so the procedures they are talking about are not right. They are talking about retrenchments. This is no retrenchment. The project is coming to an end, and now we are ending the contracts and paying the workers,” Maritz said.
According to him, Phase Three was supposed to be completed already, but due to some problems with the laying of pipelines, the project was delayed and should hopefully be completed within the next two months.