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After 3 Years Namibian Miners Fight Continues Against Chinese National Nuclear Corp Firing

by Labor Video Project
Three years ago, the leadership of the Namibia Rossing mine workers union were fired by the new owner the state owned Chinese National Nuclear Corporation CNNC. The company through corruption and collusion with the SWAPO government has stalled the arbitrations and stalled the labor process to keep the workers unemployed. There will be a hearing on March 28th and actions will take place at the San Francisco Chinese Consulate and other consulates and embassies around the world in solidarity with the miners.
After 3 Years, Namibian Rossing Miners Fight Continues Against Chinese National Nuclear Corporation Firing

In September 2020, nine union leaders of the Namibian Rossing branch were fired by the state owned Chinese National Nuclear Corporation. The company took over the mine in 2019 and promised that they would not try to bust the union and violate the labor laws of Namibia.

As soon as they took control they demanded that the union leadership make concessions on their healthcare benefits. They also tried to bribe the union offices with cars, education in China and appointment to management positions. The union branch leadership challenged the company's demands for concessions and illegal action to bring in Chinese nationals to replace Namibian workers.

They have been fighting the discharges and the company has stalled and also attacked labor lawyer Hewat Beukes who was helping with their case.

Their latest hearing will take place on March 28, 2023 and they are calling on support actions at all Chinese embassies and consulates around the world.

This interview was done on 2/17/23.

Additional Media:

Union Busting & Class Struggle in Namibia with MUN Rossing Branch Secretary George Martin
Namibian MUN Rossing Miners Leadership Win Labor Board Ruling Against Stalling By China Owned CNNC
Namibia Mine Workers Union Rossing Leaders Report On CNNC & Letter To Chinese President Xi-Jinping
Protest At New York Namibian UN Mission: Rehire 9 Rossing Mine Leaders!.Stop Harassing Lawyer Hewat Beukes!
Rehire Namibian Mine Union Leaders & Hands Off Lawyer Hewat Beukes! Rally At SF China Consulate
The Attack On Namibian Labor Lawyer Hewat Beukes & The Namibian Working Class
The Union Busting War On Namibian Workers
The Union Busting War On Namibian Workers
Namiibia Karibib Best Cheer marble processing plant strike enters third day
Striking employees of Best Cheer company block entrances to premises at Karibib
Marble factory workers want improved conditions
Additional Information:
ilscnamibia [at]

Labor Video Project

CNNC Rehire The Namibian Rossing Mine Union Leaders!
Join International March 28th Day Of Action for Namibian Rossing Miners
Three Year Anniversary Of Their Illegal Discharge By Chinese National Nuclear Corporation CNN

A two year labour dispute between the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) and China National Nuclear Corporation Rössing Uranium Limited (CNNC RUL) is setting the stage for future battles in Africa against union busting by Chinese state owned entities.

The mine is one of the largest open pit uranium mines in the world and began operating in 1976.

The dispute began in August 2020 after China’s state owned China National Nuclear Corporation bought a 68.62% stake in the Rössing Uranium mine from Australian mining giant Rio Tinto Zinc in July 2019.

The Rössing Uranium mine is one of the largest uranium mines in the world, and one where the MUN spent decades struggling successfully for excellent collective agreements and policies for its 780 members.

The former Rössing branch chairperson Johannes Hamutenya worked for the mine for 14 years before being fired in August 2020 along with the eight other members of the MUN Rössing branch executive committee at the time: Julius Ashipala, Albertos Alexander Hennes Haraseb, George Martin, Samuel Shindume, Fillemon Ihuhwa, Paulus Shikongo, Hafeni Nalusha and Ruben Snydewel.

The entire mineworkers’ union branch leadership was fired by the CNNC RUL bosses after refusing to allow the Chinese owners to do away with basic health and safety standards in the collective agreement at the mine.

In China, the only legal unions are those affiliated to the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), an organ of the ruling Chinese Communist party. The China Labour Bulletin, a non-profit Hong Kong-based publication which advocates for ACFTU unions to become independent of the ruling party, has noted that any attempt to establish an independent trade union will be seen by the Chinese Communist Party as a political threat. Union committee activities are usually restricted to handing out gifts on holidays and organizing social functions, as opposed to advocating strongly for workers’ rights.

At the time of the Rössing Uranium mine’s sale, Reuters reported Namibian mine and energy minister Tom Alweendo saying “We have no objection to the sale provided that the buyer abides by what’s expected of him by our laws”.

But CNNC RUL failed dismally to abide by Namibia’s laws. Namibia’s Labour Act says it is an unfair labour practice for any employer to unilaterally alter any term or condition of employment at a workplace. But the new owners insisted quite soon after buying the mine that they would change the 33 year old MUN recognition agreement.

The CNNC RUL also asked to re-negotiate 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 re-negotiate the performance and conduct procedure, the disciplinary code, to reduce annual and sick leave days and to rewrite the retrenchment policy.

The dismissed shopstewards say the CNNC RUL also wanted to breach the Affirmative Action Act by choosing what to pay individual employees, whereas the act clearly states that jobs of equal value must be compensated equally.

If the shopstewards did not agree – which they did not - the CNNC RUL said they would “nullify” the collective agreement – again, this is not lawful.

By August 2020, the matter came to a head. CNNC RUL first lobbied the national leaders of the mineworkers union to “discipline” the Rössing branch leaders and prevent them from objecting to the planned downgrade of their working conditions.

Then four people had arrived from China to take up management positions at the mine without the correct visas. The shopstewards informed their lawyers who exchanged letters with CNNC RUL’s lawyers that were then covered by the media. Police then arrested the managers, who were released later that night and left the country.

After this, the nine branch executive committee members were charged with gross negligence, bringing the company into disrepute and breach of confidentiality and dismissed.

Ever since then, the CNNC RUL employers have repeatedly thwarted the shopstewards’ attempts to seek justice in different courts. The matter was initially scheduled for arbitration in April 2021 – the company opposed this, demanding that the case be heard in the Labour Court. This was thrown out by the Labour Court on 8 June 2021 and the case rescheduled for arbitration.

The case was then scheduled for arbitration on 31 May, 2022.. It was later partly heard in 2022. The company called eight witnesses against the shopstewards, but two of these witnesses were fellow dismissed workers. The witnesses did not testify to any wrongdoing on the part of the axed shopstewards. The case was supposed to resume in October 2022 but the CNNC RUL again secured another postponement. Currently, there is no new date set for the case to resume and the axed shopstewards remain in limbo, with “life getting tougher and tougher”, they say.

The union leaders also wrote to Chinese president Xi Jinping in English and Mandarin in 2021, asking him to reinstate them, noting that before the mine was sold to CNNC, the Namibian workers 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” the letter says.

The mine is also 10% owned by South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation, but it has not objected to the CNNC employers’ treatment of the Namibian workers.

A international solidarity campaign formed to highlight China’s role in undermining local labour laws. Valter Sanches, the general secretary of IndustriALL, the global union federation for 50 million members of mining, energy and manufacturing unions in 140 countries, wrote to CNNC on 21 January 2021 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”.

Trade unionists and workers affiliated to the global campaign have also protested outside the San Francisco Chinese Consulate.

The international solidarity campaign’s co-ordinator, San Francisco based Steve Zeltzer, says “Chinese development projects, in many cases, are through governments that are thoroughly corrupt and done in secret as they are in Namibia. The miners were told that the labour relationship they had with former owner would continue but they discovered that CNUC had no intention of respecting their contract and labour rights. Workers are now being intimidated not to speak up. This is straight out union busting which is why the global labour movement is opposing this. The fight for the MUN Rössing leadership is about all workers who are now working on Chinese development projects throughout the world” Zeltzer said.

Namibia Ministry extends Rössing's mining licence despite union bustingössings-mining-licence
Business - News | 2022-08-22
by Matthew Dlamini

Deputy minister of mines and energy Kornelia Shilunga
THE Ministry of Mines and Energy recently approved the extension of Rössing Uranium Mine's licence (ML28) for another 10 years from 2026 to 2036.

This was disclosed by deputy minister of mines and energy Kornelia Shilunga during her keynote address at the launch of the Rössing Uranium Mine's 270-page book that highlights the mine's 45-year history of production at Swakopmund last week.

Rössing Uranium pins its hope on the extension of the lifespan of the mine.

“We are looking forward to the completion of the feasibility study towards the end of the year because the future of the mine beyond 2026 will be determined by this outcome,” said Shilunga.
This would bring the life of the conventional open pit mine to about 60 years during which it made immense contributions to Namibia's socio-economic footprint.

At the launch of the book titled, 'A lived legacy: reflecting on 45 years of working for Namibia (1976-2021)', Rössing Uranium board chairperson Steve Galloway paid tribute to pioneers of the mine.

“They envisioned the dream of establishing a world-class, responsible mining organisation, which would shape and guide future generations of Namibian mining professionals who would go on to set best practice standards, not just in mining, but also in health, safety and environmental management, and corporate and social responsibility.

“Thousands of Namibians will attest to the impact Rössing Uranium and the foundation have had on their lives, including many who are now prominent private and public sector leaders,” he said.
Among the main contributions Rössing made to the socio-economic upliftment of Namibians was the construction of the Namibia School of Mining Technology (Nimt) at Arandis at a cost of N$6 million.

“The aim of the school was to provide Namibians with technical skills essential to the mining industry and its support industries. The main need identified at that time was the training of artisans and technicians in engineering, mining, metallurgy, geology, survey, draughtsmanship and chemistry.

“Nimt continues to operate and is known to produce the most sought-after artisans in the mining and other industries,” the book highlighted.

In 1991, the Rössing Foundation opened an agricultural training centre at Okashana in northern Namibia, which offered courses in animal husbandry and crop cultivation. The centre was handed over to the government in 1996.

In 1996, the Rössing Foundation handed over to the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources the Maritime Training Centre at Lüderitz.

In addition to donating N$200 000 to the Ministry of Health and Social Services and protective gear to the Swakopmund State Hospital, Rössing procured and delivered an oxygen-generating plant valued at close to N$3,8 million to the new Covid-19 isolation facility at Walvis Bay State Hospital.

Email: matthew [at]
§Chinese Owned Namibian Rossing Mine
by Labor Video Project
The Chinese state owned company Chinese National Nuclear Corporation CNNC bought the uranium mine in 2019 and said it would not attack the union and violate Namibian labor law. However immediately after taking over the mine they began to demand healthcare concessions and tried to bribe the union leadership. They did not accept the bribes and the company fired the 9 members of the Mineworkers Union of Namibia Rossing branch leadership. They have been without work for three years.
The Chinese National Nuclear Corporation CNNC has stalled the arbitration of the firing of the 9 Rossing branch union leaders and has also sued the labor advocate Hewat Beukes to shut him down.
§Board Of Directors Of CNNC Rossing Mine
by Labor Video Project
The board of directors of the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation have supported a flagrant union busting attack on the union and workers at the uranium mine. They also illegally brought in Chinese nationals to replace Namibian workers at the mine. There are also many other struggles at other uranium and marble mines in Namibia that have been taken over by both state owned companies and private Chinese companies in Namibia.
§Namibian Miners Executive Protest Union Busting
by Labor Video Project
The Mine Workers Union of Nambia Rossing branch union fired members are demanding their jobs back and also against union busting in Namibia.
§Fired Namibia Miners Fighting Union Busting
by Labor Video Project
The entire Mineworkers Union of Namibia Rossing branch have been fighting for three years for an arbitration and against the stalling by the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation.
§Court Judgement By CNNC Against Labor Lawyer Hewat Beukes
by Labor Video Project
The CNNC is spending tens of thousands of dollars to attack not only the Mineworkers Union of Namibia Rossing branch leaders but one of their labor advocates lawyer Hewat Beukes. This is a judgement that the company got from a government court. The entire judicial structure in Namibia has been corrupted by foreign investors from not only China but other countries as well.
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