During recent months the company has been engaged in ongoing discussions with MUN Rössing branch representatives to resolve an issue regarding employee bonus payments.
Let me state from the outset, I have maintained the position, and still maintain that the Company remains committed to finding an amicable solution to this issue.
Rössing MD Chris Salisbury at a media conference held at Swakopmund on Monday 12 September 2011
The Company has held extensive dialogue with employee representatives and this process is now being supported by a Labour Commission appointed external facilitator. The Company has also kept our employees comprehensively aware of the status of this issue through various communication avenues.
As the original issue has now become a dispute with significant potential ramifications for many stakeholders, I feel it is timely to share with the media and other interested parties the issues as I see them, and the latest developments.
Rössing is an open and transparent company that practices sound governance principles of public disclosure about material issues associated with the function of the company. One such example is our Stakeholder Report, copies of which are provided here today. I encourage you to take one.
I am proud to tell you that our company is a highly responsible employer, having a long-standing and firm commitment to the welfare of our employees. I can comfortably state as fact that Rössing Uranium pays its employees, including those that fall within the Bargaining Unit, at or above the relevant mining market comparator for our region, and well above the general Namibian market.
This is a deliberate part of our strategy to achieve our aspiration of being recognised as an employer of choice in Namibia.
Like any other employer in Namibia, and in fact the world over, we have various remuneration structures applicable to different types and levels of employee roles. This logically extends to variations in incentive schemes, relevant to the category and classification within which an employee's particular role falls. Put simply, not all base pay, salaries or bonuses are the same for all employees.
Besides the fact that incentive or bonus payments vary - a proportion of the base pay for management employees is 'at risk', i.e. it is not guaranteed and forms part of their incentive payment. Whereas employees in the Bargaining Unit have a guaranteed base salary and their bonus is precisely that "a bonus". Direct comparison is invalid; it is like comparing apples to oranges.
I can also categorically state that all employees have, and continue to receive, pay that is consistent with the remuneration scheme that applies to their role.
Unfortunately, the Company has now been exposed to unreasonable claims and demands by the MUN Rössing branch leadership. The Company is being pressured to pay additional bonus to employees for no substantive rationale or reason.
MUN's demands defeat logic and are unreasonable. At the core of the current dispute are demands from MUN that the Company pay additional bonus for no other reason than management level employees received higher payments, so Bargaining Unit employees, represented by the union, should as well.
It would be irresponsible of me or any of my management team to simply accede to unreasonable demands that are contrary to sound business principles.
However, the Company is not unsympathetic or unresponsive to change or employee desires. I want to see enhancement in employees' remuneration, career path and general conditions of employment, but in return the Company needs to obtain improvements in productivity and be able to eliminate impediments to efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Regrettably, the MUN Rössing leadership refuses to engage meaningfully in seeking a solution, and remains fixated on the company acceding to its unreasonable, and one sided claim.
I still remain committed to finding a solution to this issue. Industrial action benefits no-one. Not our employees, the Company, our communities, nor the country in general.
Manager External Affairs