Windhoek, Namibia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 26 September 2011 – Workers at mining giant Rio Tinto’s Rossing mine in Namibia have started an indefinite strike, after rejecting mine management’s latest offer aimed at settling a dispute over production incentives.
The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) said its workers were not happy with the latest offer presented to them in a last bid to avoid a walkout that could strain output at one of the world’s top producers
“Workers have shot down the management offer. The strike has started as planned,” MUN Rossing branch representative Ismael Kasuto told Reuters.
The MUN, which represents some 1 200 of Rossing’s 1 600 workers, has been protesting over differences in bonuses paid to workers and management in a dispute which had already caused a three-day illegal strike in July.
Rossing said it had offered workers an unconditional upfront payment of 15 200 Namibian dollars and a further N$2 100 to N$5 150 per worker, conditional on safety and production performance during the fourth quarter. Workers have been asking for N$30 000 each, on top of N$11 000 they have already received.
"Of the 1,055 employees in the bargaining unit that are affected by the production incentive system for workers, a majority of 800 went on strike,” Kasuto said.
Rossing officials said parts of the mine were still operating. “Production has not come entirely to a standstill, some parts of our operational aspects are continuing,” Rossing spokesman Jerome Mutumba, told Reuters. He also said the company had put contingency measures in place to minimise the impact of the strike.
Kasuto countered claims by the company that some operational aspects of the mine were continuing. “As far as I know production has come to a standstill,” Kasuto claimed.
Talks are due to resume today, and a court application by Rossing to have the strike declared illegal is likely to be heard on Wednesday.