MUN inks deal with new bosses

Following the acquisition of the Rössing mine by China National Uranium Corporation Limited, MUN has secured jobs for the next two years.

22 July 2019 | Business

The Mineworkers Union (MUN) says it has reached an agreement with the new Chinese owners of Rössing Uranium that there will be “no labour interruptions or retrenchments” for two years after the acquisition of the mine.

The Erongo regional coordinator of the MUN, George Ampweya, said this agreement was reached with the mine after numerous consultations.

Ampweya said it was also agreed that the recognition agreement between the mine and the MUN, which has 900 members working at Rössing, would remain in place.

This means that all collective agreements, including agreements on benefits to workers, will remain intact.

“Our primary focus in our consultations with the mine was to retain and protect jobs. That has been achieved. No matter who runs the mine, as long as locals are employed,” Ampweya said.

He said the parties also agreed to honour the affirmative action requirement that makes provision for understudies to foreign staff.

Towards the end of last year, when it became clear that the Chinese parastatal China National Uranium Corporation Limited (CNUC) was in discussion with Rio Tinto for the purchase of its shares in the Rössing mine, Ampweya expressed “shock”, saying that the Rössing management had not engaged the MUN on the matter.

At the time he also said it was not clear what ramifications the acquisition would have for Rössing workers. Rio Tinto this week announced the completion of the sale of its entire interest in the Rössing mine to CNUC for an initial cash payment of US$6.5 million plus a contingent payment of up to US$100 million.

With this acquisition now in the bag, it means that two Chinese parastatals now dominate the uranium sector in Namibia - CNUC at Rössing and China General Nuclear (CGN) as majority shareholder of the Husab mine.

In June, when the Namibian Competition Commission (NCC) announced its approval of the acquisition, it said the sale of Rössing to CNUC was “unlikely to result in the prevention or substantial lessening of competition in any undertaking acquiring or strengthening a dominant position in the relevant market”.

It did, however, impose certain conditions for the sale to safeguard employment, local procurement and to maintain benefits currently derived in terms of taxes and royalties.

The first conditions were that there would be no merger-specific retrenchments of Rössing employees over the next two years and that Rössing should maintain a ratio of at least 95% local to foreign employees for the lifespan of the mine.

It further imposed the condition that Rössing may not employ any non-Namibians at management level on any basis other than a two-year fixed term.

Apart from the labour conditions imposed for the sale to go through, other conditions include local procurement and the maintenance of benefits currently derived in terms of taxes and royalties.

CATHERINE SASMAN

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