LLD workers’ woes continueBy: DENVER KISTING
THE 150 workers of Lev Leviev Diamonds (LLD) face retrenchment should no agreement be reached between the company and the Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC) by the end of June.
Jonas Lumbu, the general secretary of the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN), yesterday said LLD has agreed to pay this month’s salaries.
“If, by the end of June, there is not yet an agreement between LLD and NDTC, there will be a big problem. The company might then go ahead with retrenchment,” he said.
The LLD Namibia workers were sent home on Monday on unpaid leave for an indefinite period.
However, it seems as if the company has since backtracked on its decision and undertaken to compensate them for June.
Yesterday morning, more than 90 LLD workers turned up at the union offices for an emergency meeting, Lumbu said.
According to him, it was decided to set up a committee of six employees. This group, together with the MUN, will try and find a solution.
Lumbu said the first meeting with LLD management is planned for Monday. “We want to see whether we can find a solution before the end of June, he said.”
Earlier this week, Evilastus Kaaronda, the secretary general of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), said the move to send the workers home amounted to illegal retrenchment.
Lumbu on Wednesday said 14 companies had applied to the NDTC for diamond concessions and LLD was the only one that was declined.
Lumbu described the situation of the workers as painful. He said they also want to hear Government’s side of the story. The Namibian Government has a 50 per cent stake in NDTC.
LLD managing director Kombadayedu Kapwanga has disputed the reasoning behind the rejection of LLD’s application for a diamond quota.
NDTC spokesperson Brent Eiseb this week confirmed that 13 Namibian cutting and polishing companies were awarded three-year supply contracts – two more companies than previously. LLD did not make the cut.
Applicants must have a minimum global turnover of US$10 million for 2010 and must comply with De Beers’ Best Practice Principles.
Kapwanga earlier said that LLD’s average annual turnover amounts to US$20 million.
However, the company’s image was dealt a blow when the Namibian Police confiscated close to 2 000 stones from its factory early last year.
It remains unclear whether this influenced the NDTC decision.