MAC: Mines and Communities

Namibia: Rössing Contract Workers Feel Exploited and Abused

Published by MAC on 2015-10-08
Source: All Africa

Namibia - Rössing Contract Workers Feel Exploited and Abused

9 October 2015

RIO Tinto's Rössing Uranium contract workers met at the mine at Arandis on Wednesday to hand over a petition to the management, accusing their employer of violating their rights.

The petition stated that contact workers are "being exploited for cheap labour", alleging that one permanent employee's salary was equal to the salary of seven contract workers, especially considering security personnel - even though "they do the same work but are paid and treated differently".

They are also complaining about allegedly being forced to work longer hours and if they complain their "job security is threatened".

The contract workers claim they allegedly do not get medical aid, housing allowance and social security in many instances, and are "dumped" at home when they get injured on site and are replaced by someone else.

"Contract workers are being dismissed without fair hearings. Their access cards are simply blocked without any reason. There are no written contracts of employment; no disciplinary policies; and the employer changes the conditions without notifying anyone and it becomes a dispute," the petition went on, adding that the workers are allegedly victimised if they belong to a union.

The workers are now demanding that all contractor companies on site adhere to 'The Way We Work' policy which is a global policy for all in Rio Tinto. They also want Rössing to have disciplinary policies and written contracts for their employees to avoid misunderstandings.

Other demands include the creation of a platform where the contract workers can raise issues without victimisation; medical aid; that work of equal value be fairly remunerated; and that contract workers should be treated similar to Rössing employees when doing work of the same magnitude.

The petition was handed over to Rössing's general manager for operations, Martin Tjipita, and chief financial officer Shaan van Schalkwyk who in turn acknowledged receipt of the petition and that they will respond to it in due course.

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