Uranium miners demand MD's removal

28 June 2013 | Labour

WINDHOEKFAITH SANKWASA

Employees of the Langer Heinrich Uranium (LHU) Mine in the Erongo Region have demanded the removal of their managing director, Werner Duvenhage, amidst claims of “hostile” working conditions.
The workers, led by Mineworkers Union of Namibia branch chairman John Narib, demanded this when they handed over a petition to the mine's management during a demonstration yesterday.
The employees also demanded to know why they have not been given pay increases this year.
On Wednesday, Duvenhage issued a press statement saying that several investigations had cleared the mine of all allegations of unsafe working conditions for pregnant women.
Duvenhage said the mine recently obtained legal opinions which confirmed that its policies on pregnant employees comply with all Namibian laws.
He added that reviews by international radiation specialists also found that the mine's policies and procedures comply with international practices at other uranium mines.
However, the MUN says its attempts to discuss the issue with the mine management have been unsuccessful.
According to Narib, Duvenhage has continually refused to have talks with the union and opts to send his management team, who do not have the mandate to respond or take a decision on several other petitions handed over to them.
The petitions demanded that pregnant women should not work in radiation-exposed facilities, annual increases and better working conditions. Narib claimed that pregnant women are still made to work in dangerous areas.
The union lodged a complaint with the Office of the Prime Minister and an investigation team was sent to the mine, but its findings have not been publicised.
“The situation is worsening by the day. There is a hostile atmosphere between the MD and MUN branch executive. Duvenhage is the stumbling block for the whole process,” Narib said.
The employees and MUN gave management until July 4 to respond to their petition before taking unspecified action.

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