Rally At SF Chinese Consulate
President Xi-Jinping Rehire The Mineworkers Union Of Nabia Rossing Branch Leaders NOW!
Stop The Union Busting Campaign In Namibia
Speak-Out At San Francisco Chinese Consulate
Monday May 19, 2021 4PM
Geary St. & Laguna St. San Francisco
On Monday May 19, 2021 9 trade union leaders of the Namibian Mineworkers Union Rossing branch are supposed to be having an arbitration because of their illegal firing by the state owned Chinese National Nuclear Corporate CNNC Rossing mine.
They were fired by the company in August 2020 after they opposed giving up healthcare benefits, union seniority rights and opposing the introduction of Chinese workers to replace Namibian unionized workers.
These Chinese workers actually have worse labor conditions than the Namibian workers working from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM at night. This undermines the conditions of the Namibian workers.
Chinese companies now control the entire uranium mining sector are engaged in attacking the union members at all the mines that they operate.
The Namibian Mineworkers Union Rossing branch leaders are appealing for workers throughout the world to call for their rehiring and also for the Chinese government to stop it’s flagrant violations of Namibian labor laws.
Workers at the Rossing mine, the Husab mine and other mines face an organized national union busting campaign to destroy their trade unions.
Namibia workers faced the brutality and occupation of the South African apartheid regime now face a re-colonization by these state owned corporations from China.
Trade unionists and workers will be speaking out about their defense and why international solidarity means supporting the Namibian miners. The San Francisco Labor Council has also unanimously called for the rehiring of the Rossing miners.
Our fight is not with the working people of China whom we support but the bureaucrats of the CCP who have no compunction attacking the workers and unions of Namibia where unemployment is from 40 to 50%.
Solidarity Has No Borders!
Stop Union Busting At The Rossing Mine
For more info (415) 533-5642
United Front Committee For A Labor Party UFCLP
Freedom Socialist Party, CWG
Internatonal Labor Solidarity Committee For The Namibian Miners ILSCNM
New mine owners trample on Namibian workers’ rights
A state-owned enterprise from China bought a huge stake in the Rössing Uranium Mine and immediately began downgrading working conditions before dismissing
By: Anna Majavu
15 Apr 2021
15 April 2019: A sign at the Rӧssing mine near Arandis, Namibia. It is one of the oldest and largest open-pit uranium mines in the world and lies in the Namib Desert, about 70km from Swakopmund. (Photograph by Christian Ender/ Getty Images)
A bitter dispute between the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) and China National Nuclear Corporation Rössing Uranium Limited (CNNC RUL) is heading to arbitration in Swakopmund from 19 to 21 April 2021.
CNNC RUL, which bought a 68.62% stake in the Rössing Uranium Mine from Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto Zinc in July 2019, has been heavily criticised for how it runs the mine – including its unfair labour practices.
Rössing is one of the largest uranium mines in the world, and the MUN has spent decades negotiating excellent collective agreements and policies for its 780 members, says Johannes Hamutenya, the union’s Rössing branch chairperson.
Hamutenya worked for the mine for 14 years before he was fired in August 2020, along with eight other members of the MUN Rössing branch executive committee: Julius Ashipala, Albertos Alexander Hennes Haraseb, George Martin, Samuel Shindume, Fillemon Ihuhwa, Paulus Shikongo, Hafeni Nalusha and Ruben Snydewel.
Hamutenya says the union was concerned when it heard CNNC RUL wanted to buy into the mine because the company had no experience in dealing with independent trade unions, which are not permitted in China.
Answer the siren call and make the elites fear it
Namibia’s mine and energy minister Tom Alweendo told Reuters in 2019: “We have no objection to the sale provided that the buyer abides by what’s expected of him by our laws.” But Hamutenya says within months of taking ownership, CNNC RUL was circumventing the law.
Namibia’s Labour Act says it is an unfair labour practice to unilaterally alter any term or condition of employment. But the new owners insisted on changing MUN’s recognition agreement with the Rössing Uranium Mine, which has been in place for 33 years, Hamutenya says. CNNC RUL also asked to renegotiate the recruitment policy; to remove the union’s offices, archives and boardrooms at the mine; to do away with safety officers and affirmative action monitors; to renegotiate the performance and conduct procedure as well as the disciplinary code; to reduce annual and sick leave days; and to rewrite the retrenchment policy.
“The retrenchment policy is the best in Namibia. The Chinese and Namibian management wanted all these documents renegotiated so that they could have more power to do what they want,” says Hamutenya. The new managers also wanted to do away with pay scales. “They wanted to breach the Affirmative Action Act by paying employees as they see fit, whereas it says jobs of equal value must be compensated equally. Eventually they said they won’t give us a salary increase if we refuse to renegotiate. They threatened to nullify all the collective agreements, which is unlawful.”
He says CNNC RUL then lobbied the national leaders of the mineworkers union to “discipline” the Rössing branch. The dispute eventually came to a head in August 2020 when the committee told their lawyers that four managers had been hired from China without the correct visas. There was an exchange of letters between the union and CNNC RUL’s lawyers, which was covered by the media. Police then arrested the managers, who were released later that night and allegedly left the country.
After that, the nine branch executive committee members were charged with gross negligence, bringing the company into disrepute and breach of confidentiality. They were fired.
Unfairly dismissed and unable to find work
New mine owners trample on Namibian workers’ rights
“I have been applying for several vacancies but, despite my experience, I have not even got a single call. Our names seem to have been put on a list, and it will be hard for us to find good employment in the country,” says Ashipala, who was the MUN branch secretary for information and publicity, and worked for the mine for nine years.
Vice-chairperson Haraseb, who worked for Rössing mine for over 16 years, says, “I did not plan for early retirement and my retirement funds were very low. I just bought a house five years ago, and I still have 15 years to pay it off. We are struggling to make ends meet, and it is very hard on us.”
Shikongo was the vice-treasurer of the MUN Rössing branch. “I worked for the company for the past 14 years without any record of misconduct on my name until this,” he says. “It is really discouraging as my work helped the company. Labour law allows unions and labour relations to exist. But now my future plans are crippled. My children are four and seven years old, and I worry every day how to provide for those little ones. It is a career massacre that was committed on us because we now cannot get employment after being dismissed.”
The artisans hunting for work on the streets
Snydewel has worked at Rössing mine for more than nine years but was a full-time shop steward for MUN for only 10 months when he was dismissed. “My wife is working but it doesn’t cover our expenses. I have to take care of seven family members. There is a ripple effect as I had to let my helper go and she has a family of her own. I am in debt on my bond repayment,” says Snydewel.
The secretary of the branch, Martin, worked for 13 years at Rössing mine. “Our kids go to school every day. We have to pay for school. We have to pay for food. Namibia has an unemployment rate of between 30% and 50%, and the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the job market. It has hit us very badly. My wife is stressing. She is not sleeping. I was just doing my job for the union. It is not even that I was fired fairly. We were all unlawfully dismissed,” Martin says.
“We had the best medical aid in Namibia and now we cannot afford it. My water and electricity bills are in arrears. I cancelled my life insurance policy. We asked our union head office to pay us an allowance because we were fired for doing union work but they refused. They are only covering our legal bills,” says Hamutenya.
With the arbitration looming, the union leaders wrote to Chinese president Xi Jinping asking him to reinstate them. The letter says that during the meetings held to discuss the impending takeover, “we were repeatedly reminded of the role the Peoples’ Republic of China played during the war of our liberation. It seems the saviour has become the killer.”
Two months ago they wrote to Namibia’s president Hage Geingob. They haven’t had a response from either president.
The mine is also 10% owned by South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation, which did not respond to questions. Similarly, the manager of corporate communication for CNNC RUL, Daylight Ekandjo, said: “This matter is sub-judice and being dealt with through the office of the Namibian Labour Commissioner, we can therefore unfortunately not address your related queries at this stage.”
In solidarity with workers
An international labour solidarity campaign has been started, to pressure the CNNC RUL to reinstate the axed union leaders.
The Geneva-based IndustriALL, a global union federation for 50 million members of mining, energy and manufacturing unions in 140 countries, wrote to CNNC RUL on 21 January saying: “This anti-union approach to labour relations is against existing collective bargaining agreements that the company has signed … and threatens the sound relations that exist between workers and the company.”
Mutenya is hopeful, but recognises that the fight is much bigger than the individuals involved: “Our fight is so difficult because it is a political fight. The politicians are involved. It is the relationship between China and the Namibian government. So we workers on the floor, we mean nothing.”
San Francisco Labor Council Unanimous Resolution for Rehiring the Namibian Miners Rossing Union Branch Leadership
Whereas, the right off all workers to have the right to protect their health and safety, working conditions and benefits; and
Whereas, all workers have the right to have an independent union not controlled by employers or governments; and
Whereas, the Namibian National Workers union was founded in the fight against the South African apartheid regime which controlled Namibia; and
Whereas, the management of the Rossing Mine was taken over in 2019 by the state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation; and
Whereas, this corporation promised to protect the rights and conditions of the workers at the Rossing mine which is the largest producer of uranium in Namibia; and
Whereas, the new management sought to bribe the leadership of the Namibian Mineworkers Union Rossing Branch; and
Whereas, in return for these company bribes the company wanted concessions on the number of contract workers and other conditions and rights; and
Whereas, the company has sought to attack the healthcare benefits of the miners that would limit their healthcare; and
Whereas, the company sought to replace staff at the mine with Chinese employees; and
Whereas, the company has unilaterally violated labor conditions and rights, violating not only the union contract but Namibian Labor Laws; and
Whereas, the company has also taken illegal action to harass, bully and terminate the 9 NMUW Rossing Union executive board members of the Rossing Union Branch; and
Whereas, this action is an attack not only on the Namibia Miners Union Rossing Branch officers and members but on all the workers in Namibia; and
Whereas, there needs to be an international campaign to return these unionists to their jobs and also to end the systemic violations of the Nambia Mine Workers Union Rossing Branch contract and pertinent labor rights; and
Whereas, these unfairly dismissed union officers and their families are without any financial support for their survival,
Therefore Be it Resolved the San Francisco Labor Council calls on the China National Nuclear Corporation to immediately return the nine Namibia Mineworkers Union Rossing Union executive board members to their positions with back pay and also end management violations of both the contract and the protections under Nambian Labor Laws, and
Therefore Be it Finally Resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council send letters to the China National Nuclear Corporation and the government of China calling for their re-instatement of the nine NMUW Rossing Union Executive Board members and forward this resolution to other affiliated bodies for concurrence.
Adopted unanimously by the San Francisco Labor Council on April 12, 2021. OPEIU 29 AFL-CIO 11
Rossing Mine workers stage demonstration in Swakopmund
Seattle APRI Panel On The Mineworkers Union Of Namibia Rossing Mine Leaders Struggle For Justice
The Namibia Mineworkers Union Rossing Branch & The Struggle of The Namibian Working Class
Namibian Rössing Mine Workers Face Covid-19 & Attacks From State Owned China National Uranium Corporation
Namibia Rössing, union in wage deadlock
China and Namibia Rössing Workers on Collision Course
Namibia MUN claims China National Nuclear Corporation is falling short of its Rossing promises
Namibia Rössing uranium mine union members face dismissal by Chinese owners
Swapo, what is 'Socialism with a Namibian Character’?
Namibia says China can buy Rio's uranium stake if it respects laws
Anatomy of a Bribe & Fish Rot Files
For more information:
Petition For Reinstatement of the Nine Mine Workers Union of Leaders of Namibia Rossing Uranium Limited
Internatonal Labor Solidarity Committee For The Namibian Miners
View events for the week of 4/19/2021
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
|Pres Xi-Jinping Rehire The Mineworkers Union Of Nabia Rossing Branch Leaders NOW!|
|Import into your personal calendar|
|Date||Monday April 19|
|Time||4:00 PM - 5:00 PM|
|Organizer/Author||Internatonal Labor Solidarity Committee For T|
SF Chinese Consulate
Geary St. & Laguna St. San Francisco
Added to the calendar on Thursday Apr 15th, 2021 9:39 PM