Namibian miners' strike enters second week

Rosh Pinah zinc and lead mine in southern Namibia
Rosh Pinah zinc and lead mine in southern Namibia

The strike at the Exarro Rosh Pinah zinc and lead mine in the South yesterday entered its second week as management and union representatives failed to reach agreement on a dispute over a sacked union leader.

Submitted by Joseph Kay on August 7, 2007

Previous coverage here. The Namibian reports:

Strikers have blocked the mine's main entrance since last Sunday after going on a wildcat strike in protest against the sacking of the Rosh Pinah Branch Chairman of the Mineworkers Union of Namibia, Petrus Amakali.

Amakali had been sacked for insubordination, instigation of fellow workers, violent behaviour and for being in possession of a traditional knife at the workplace - claims he denied in an earlier interview with The Namibian.

Management has said that proper procedures were followed throughout. The strikers are demanding the immediate reinstatement of Amakali. In addition, the workers are calling for the immediate removal of Rosh Pinah Zinc Corporation General Manager Christo Aspeling.

The strikers claimed that Aspeling had trumped up multiple misconduct charges that led to the dismissal of Amakali, a laboratory technician. While picketing is continuing, MUN Secretary General Bro Joseph Hengari yesterday told The Namibian that workers won't budge.

"The workers have warned that the strike could lead to unspecified action if Aspeling reports for duty on Monday (today)," Hengari said. In a media statement on Thursday, MUN President AS Eiseb threatened to command mineworkers across the country to join the strike in solidarity.

"This action of the company is unprocedural," he claimed. Eiseb demanded that Government revoke Aspeling's work permit with immediate effect. Aspeling is from South Africa.

The company's Corporate Manager, Hilton Atkinston, said the disciplinary process had been fair and reasonable. However, he added, the company was in discussions with the union to find a mutually acceptable resolution. He appealed to the strikers to return to work.

The company employs 570 permanent workers, of whom 350 are affiliated to the union.