Glencore to cuts jobs in Namibia


Glencore Xstrata, the Switzerland based and diversified miner seeking to increase jobs at its Zambian operations-Mopani Copper Mines to accelerate its copper and cobalt production, has a contradictory objective in the neighboring Namibia.

The diversified and one of the global commodity traders, in Namibia, wants to cut the same jobs at one of its underground operations.

The mining company, which has since 2000 invested over US$2 billion in its Zambia’s unit-Mopani Copper Mines (MCM), seeks to scale down 124 jobs, representing 20% of its staff at its underground Rosh Pinah Zinc and lead mine in Namibia as a cost saving measure as it strives to accelerate its operations in Africa.

During the five-year period 2007-2012, Mopani contributed over KR2.3 billion (US$420 million) in taxes to government. Over the same period, the company paid about KR40m (US$7m) to the Kitwe and Mufulira local authorities in property rates, said company chief executive Danny Callow during a Mining and energy conference held in Lusaka last year.
Since 2000, when Mopani took over, the labour force increased from 10000 and has nearly doubled from about to nearly 18000 employees, which accounts for about 35% of the total labour force in the Zambian mining sector, added Callow.

Mopani Copper Mines, a unit of Glencore Xstrata in 2011 appointed  Emmanuel Mutati, one of Zambia’s leading engineers in mining and metallurgy as its new board chairman at a a board meeting that was held on 26 July,2011. Before his appointment, Mutati was chief executive officer of the company.
In his place, Glencore appointed Danny Callow as the new chief executive officer to replace Mutati.

However, in Namibia, the situation is different with the swiss-based company and the globally reputed mining and commodity trading company having bought an 80.1% stake in Rosh Pinah zinc and lead mine, in southwestern Namibia, 800 kilometers south of the capital Windhoek, in 2011 from South Africa’s Exxaro and other shareholders and has been reviewing the operation, says a report by Mining Brief, a mining journal.

According to Glencore, the management of Rosh Pinah Zinc Corporation recently announced changes aimed at addressing significant economic pressures. It sympathises and understands that ‘this may be a difficult time for some of its employees and their families’.

Given the situation, it is reported, the company has engaged the Chamber of Mines of Namibia to coordinate the possible appointment of the laid off workers at other mines within Namibia.

The company has 600 permanent employees in Namibia and about 138 temporary employees and contractors and had a turnover of about US$78.1 million in 2013. According to the Chamber of Mines the Rosh Pinah mine produced about 114000 tons of zinc concentrate and 20550 tons of lead concentrate in 2013, up 20 % and 17.5% respectively compared to 2012.

An attempt by the Mineworkers Union of Namibia to stop the retrenchment of the 124 failed in the Labour Court in Windhoek recently.

The union’s urgent application against Rosh Pinah Zinc Corporation was refused and struck from the roll by Judge Shafimana Ueitele, who had earlier reserved his ruling after he had heard oral arguments on the MUN’s legal action against the company.

The miners’ union, (MUN) had asked the Labour Court to order the company to stop the retrenchment of employees until a dispute between the union and Rosh Pinah Zinc over a round of job cuts at the company’s mine has been resolved.

The union’s acting secretary general, Ebenezer Zarondo, informed the court in an affidavit that Rosh Pinah Zinc gave employees of the mine notice of their retrenchment only a day before the retrenchments took effect.

The mine first notified its employees on 20 February that it would be cutting jobs in a restructuring exercise. After that, negotiations between the union and the company reached a deadlock, and a dispute was referred to the Office of the Labour Commissioner for conciliation.

In another affidavit filed at the court, a manager of Rosh Pinah Zinc, Kondja Kaulinge, argued that the Labour Court could only issue an interdict against the company if the employees had already for instance referred a dispute about their actual dismissal to the Office of the Labour Commissioner, something that has not been done, the journal and online publication adds in its report.

Kaulinge also argued that an interdict ordering the company not to retrench the employees would be academic, since the retrenchments have already taken place on 31 May.

Glencore is a major producer and marketer of over 90 commodities. Its diversified operations comprise over 150 mining and metallurgical sites, oil production assets and agricultural facilities.

Its industrial and marketing activities are supported by a global network of more than 90 offices located in over 50 countries and it employs around 200000 people, including contractors, the journal adds.



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