WALVIS BAY – At least 47 artisans were verbally dismissed on Monday after failed wage negotiations.
The artisans, who were employed by Metal Mill Engineering, a company contracted by Andrada Mining Limited (former AfriTin Mining Limited) at Uis, said their previous contract came to an end in December, and they approached their employer for new wage negotiations.
One of the workers, Sakaria Vatilifa, yesterday told New Era their manager Giel Vorster wanted them to continue with the old contract; he refused to negotiate a new contract.
“We started negotiating on Friday; we just wanted to get paid N$90 per hour. However, Vorster refused and told us to take it or leave it. We refused, and he verbally dismissed us yesterday,” Vatilifa said.
He added that subcontracted artisans at the mine are currently receiving between N$200 to N$300, while they receive N$25 to N$30 per hour, which is, according to them, a slap in the face.
“Imagine the huge difference, and we only wanted at least N$90 per hour, as we only received a mere 3% [increase] last year, which made no significant difference to our salary.
That is why we wanted to negotiate with the company in good faith,” Vatilifa told New Era.
According to him, artisans at the lowest should at least be paid N$120 per hour.
He also accused the company of exploiting workers, saying the disparities between salaries are so huge from what their expatriates are paid.
“We also want the ministry of home affairs to come to the mine and see how many South Africans are employed without proper work permits,” he appealed.
Another employee, Likius Petrus, who was also fired, said the company is now also refusing to pay them in full.
According to Petrus, they were told shortly after being fired that they will get only half of their salaries now.
“They told us the remaining half will only be paid once we conduct our exit medical test. It is not as if we are the ones paying the doctors; why should they withhold our salaries,” Petrus said.
These workers are now appealing to the labour ministry to visit the mine to investigate the unfair labour practices, as workers are being exploited.
Vorster, when contracted for comment yesterday, only said “no comment” before ending the call.