Rössing to splash out on packagesBy: ADAM HARTMAN
RIO Tinto’s Rössing Uranium has agreed to pay retrenched workers 21 days’ basic salary for every year they worked for the mine as part of an agreement reached with the Mineworkers Union of Namibia.
The 276 affected workers will also get three months’ “notice pay” while those who live in company accommodation will be allowed to keep living there for six months, or be paid six months’ housing allowance based on current housing arrangements.
Rössing announced its restructuring process two weeks ago and the mine’s managing director, Chris, said that a slump in the global uranium price and demand, and an operation loss of N$474 million during 2012, had forced them to reduce costs by cutting the 276 jobs by April.
The jobs are 21 management posts, 25 professional, 28 supervisory and 202 operational and maintenance posts.
Employees who choose to vacate their company housing within six months will receive a cash payment of the housing allowance for the remaining period, while workers not living in company accommodation will be paid six months’ housing allowance.
The company announced that the workers will remain members of the medical aid scheme for four months, with the employee portion for the four months being deducted from their final payment and paid to the medical aid.
All affected workers will be entitled to their 13th cheque “pro rata to the end of their notice period” and a “farewell donation” will also be paid to all affected employees.
Rössing said the company will assist affected employees to acquire further life skills by sponsoring either a three-month training course at the Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology (NIMT) or paying the equivalent of the three months at NIMT to a different institution for a course not offered at NIMT.
The agreement, which was signed by Ismael Kasuto, branch chairman of the MUN, and Rio Tinto Rössing Uranium’s general manager for human resources, Melissa Shanjengange, states that both parties “agree that job security is of fundamental importance to all employees and that retrenchment should be considered only after all other options have been explored”. According to an employee brief from the mine last Thursday, the restructuring process is expected to consist of two phases. Phase one is a voluntary separation process for employees in the affected job categories, and phase two involves expression of interest in taking voluntary separation for employees who are in unaffected job categories.
The two processes will run in parallel until next Friday to ascertain the number of applicants and once the voluntary separation phase has been completed, the involuntary layoffs will start.
“At this stage one cannot conclude the exact number of people per grade to be affected until we have finalised all the collaborative phases of the restructuring process inclusive the involuntary restructuring process starting now until end May,” Kasuto told The Namibian yesterday.
He said the parties are still exploring different avenues to decrease the impact.
“At this stage we are confident that the consultative process has been fairly conducted between the parties thus far,” said Kasuto.