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Fluid Husab labour agreement amended every six weeks

At a large meeting of stakeholders in Swakop Uranium’s Husab mine, shareholders, union members, mine management and independent industry institutions all committed to the Project Labour Agreement that guides the construction phase of the Husab mine.

At a large meeting of stakeholders in Swakop Uranium’s Husab mine, shareholders, union members, mine management and independent industry institutions all committed to the Project Labour Agreement that guides the construction phase of the Husab mine.

The Namibian Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Hon. Doreen Sioka last week commended Swakop Uranium and its partners on the signing of another Project Labour Agreement (PLA).
The minister said this agreement contributes to stability and industrial peace during the Husab mine’s construction phase.
In a joint statement issued late last week, Swakop Uranium, the Construction Industry Federation of Namibia (CIF) and the Metal and Allied Workers Union of Namibia (MANWU) announced the signing of the revised PLA, also stating that similar meetings will take place every six weeks for the duration of the construction phase.

At the latest round of negotiations, the parties agreed that the current revised PLA complements all previous PLA’s as amended from time to time, including where the current PLA is silent on specific previous PLA issues, and emphasised that it will continue to apply to all contractors, sub-contractors and their employees.
There are currently some 2,000 contract workers on site for the construction of the Husab mine.
It is expected that close to 6000 workers will be on site at peak. Swakop Uranium said good co-operation exists with the Ministry of Labour as the Husab project recruits its staff through the office of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare office in Swakopmund.
According to ZHENG Keping, Swakop Uranium’s CEO, the PLA is not a collective agreement between Swakop Uranium and MANWU, although the PLA is known to regulate pre-hire terms and conditions of employment for collective bargaining agreement with one or more labour organizations for specific projects.
He said the company and the CIF respect the right of all employees to join a trade union of their choice without any victimisation.
MANWU is currently recognised to have bargaining rights to represent – and negotiate on behalf of – the workers employed by the contractors and sub-contractors on the Husab Project.
“The PLA confirms this principle. The PLA furthermore stipulates that the company shall consider job seeking applications from contractor employees,” he said.
During the signing ceremony, the parties declared their commitment to the common objectives of industrial peace and stability as well as the maintenance of recognised work standards, acceptable quality input and output and the fair and just treatment, based on the principle of fairness of all employees at the workplace.
At the occasion, MANWU Secretary General, Justina Jonas said MANWU being the current recognised trade union, has bargaining rights to represent and negotiate based on its constitution and the mandated given. “MANWU will ensure that employees’ rights are respected, laws and regulations especially the Collective Agreement between MANWU and CIF are complied with by the contractors and subcontractors on site.”
“The union applauds Swakop Uranium for being one of the few clients taking responsibility for labour matters during the construction phase.
The PLA is an initiative other companies should try and emulate, she said.
Jonas said the parties commit themselves to explore all dispute resolution avenues before embarking on industrial action.
This shall include the mediation of disputes of interest and the arbitration of disputes of rights as viable options.
Bärbel Kirchner, Consulting General Manager of the Construction Industries Federation of Namibia further emphasises: “The development of the world’s second largest uranium mine essentially will have to take place within a timeframe of three years.
It is critical that a project of this scale is well managed and completed on time. The project labour agreement, which is exclusively applicable to the project as well as only during the development phase of the mine, will help to provide uniform conditions which must be adhered to by all contractors, subcontractors as well as employees.”
Swakop Uranium has included its vision and values in the PLA to set a harmonious and balanced industrial relations field for its workers.
The agreement covers and defines Safety, Collaboration, Transparency, Accountability and Integrity.

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