According to the Mine Workers Union of Namibia (MUN), mine workers in the country face systematic victimization from their employers and are usually too scared to step forward with their grievances for fear of further victimization and even loss of employment.
Speaking in an interview with the Economist this week, MUN acting Secretary General, Ebben Zarondo said six cases of victimization and other grievances pertaining to mistreatment of mine workers have been reported to the union in the past 2 years.
“We do get a lot of complaints from mine workers, most of them are severe cases where the victims lose their jobs or sacrifice their employee benefits or encounter demotion or not being promoted. The most complaints come from the employees that represent others in the work place.”
Describing the relationship between disgruntled mine workers and employers, Zaronda said that both the management and workers need to address the issues jointly and allow the union to work when needed. He also said that there is need for training on mediation skills for both parties, employees and the management, to have a conducive work environment and to have effective communication.
Zarondo cited members of the union losing their jobs through systematic victimization as the union’s greatest concern. He called for mine owners and mine workers to find the best means possible to resolve their problems amicably in order for both parties to contribute to the fast-growing economy.
He urged mine workers not to shy away from reporting cases of maltreatment to the union as the union is there to protect them. “The union’s doors are always open. We as the Mine Workers Union of Namibia strive to resolve all labour related disputes in line with statutory structures as required by law”.
The mining industry at large is often criticised by the union with Zarondo claiming that most disputes revolve around benefits such as medical aid, housing allowances, transport allowances and pensions, particularly for contract workers.
Zarondo also told the Economist that even though mine workers report these cases to the union, there is always a delay in resolving the labour disputes because in most cases where victimization has been reported, both parties involved are not fully committed to resolve the disputes.