Namdeb employing workers on fixed-term contracts is poor labour practice – expert

Erasmus Shalihaxwe

Labour expert Herbert Jauch, says the mining company Namdeb’s decision to employ 171 workers on a fixed-term contract is a poor labour practice that disadvantages the affected workers.

Jauch said this on Monday during an interview with Windhoek Observer while reacting to Namdeb chief executive officer Riaan Burger’s revelation that the diamond mining company has 1684 workers on permanent contracts and 171 fixed-term contracts.

“I do not know the specific reasons why so many workers are employed on fixed-term contracts at NAMDEB. It is certainly a poor labour practice that disadvantages the affected workers,” said Jauch.

Jauch said the issue of mining companies using workers on fixed-term contracts has been a problem for many years.

According to him, companies do that to avoid social responsibility while workers are deprived of job security.

“Unions need to negotiate job security for all workers. The Labour Amendment Act of 2012 states that workers should be employed permanently unless the employer provides good reasons why a person has to be employed on a fixed-term basis. Unions should use this provision to fight for permanent work for all,” he said

Burger was responding to Vice President Netumbo Nandi-Ndeitwah, who sought clarity on why the company has so many employees on fixed-term contracts.

Burger told Nandi-Ndaitwah that although the workers are employed on fixed-term contracts, they have equal benefits to permanent employees.

Ndaitwah told Burger that the company is mining a critical natural resource, which belongs to all Namibians, and all workers should have job security which is important for peace and stability of the country.

The long, renewable temporary and full-time contracts were one of the agenda points of the 2011 strike, which was later resolved by resulting in the formulation of a tripartite agreement between the union, Namdeb management, and the government.

Mine Workers Union of Namibia Regional Secretary in ||Karas region Hashondali Kakuti, said advocating for job security for workers is one of the union’s key priorities.

“Ever since the signed tripartite agreement came into effect, the two parties have always honoured that agreement by collectively monitoring and managing the full-time contract list properly,” he said.

Kakuti explained that during a regional executive committee meeting held at the beginning of the month, the Namdeb branch representatives were tasked to take up this matter urgently.

He added that the current number of employees on a fixed-term contract is of great concern to the union and the issue needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

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