BEST Cheer Investments, the company currently under siege from a striking workforce, is considering criminal and civil action against employees and the union that represents them.
In a statement, the marble producer from Karibib said that the conduct of the Mine Workers Union of Namibia (MUN) and the workers are unacceptable. The company referred to last week’s protest action that saw the workers block entrances to prevent other workers from entering the premises.
“The company has reached a point where we no longer believe in the intentions of, cause, or purpose of the union and we have lost all faith in the negotiation proceeding. Given the conduct of the union and its members the company is seriously considering initiating criminal, civil, and disciplinary action,” the statement reads.
Best Cheer Investments stated that since the commencement of the industrial action that the behaviour of the MUN and striking employees have not been aimed at persuading the public to join for the sake of their benefit, but rather to tarnish the reputation of the company and to create xenophobic perceptions amongst Namibians towards foreign investors.
“The impression that the MUN have or would like to create is that Best Cheer Investments is a Chinese company that employs mostly Chinese Nationals. The reality is that the company employs 421 Namibians and only 41 Chinese nationals,” the statement said.
According to Best Cheer Investments, the MUN has falsely accused the company of breaking the strike rules when they, and with the intention to tarnish the good name of the company, announced in the media that Chinese nationals are performing the work of striking employees. This after the MUN representative, George Ampweya was informed in writing that the work done by Chinese employees, were not jobs scheduled for striking employees, the MUN initiated further unruly behaviour when they entered the company’s premises on various occasions without the necessary permission.
Workers on more than one occasion removed property belonging to Best Cheer Investments from the premises, blocked the entrances of Marmerwerke Karibib on two separate occasions which resulted in the obstruction of production and sales, allowed their members to conduct themselves in an aggressive and disrespectful manner, allowed discrimination and hate speech to take place, and made a number of false and misleading statements on various media platforms.
The company said that 107 of its employees started with industrial protest action following a breakdown in salary negotiations where the MUN demanded an increase of 55% for the workers. Best cheer Investments offered an increase of 9.5% on average of which the increment would form part of an allowance given to workers residing at the various quarries of the company.
The company stated on several occasions that the dimension stone industry is on a decline and that the past year has been difficult.
“Despite the difficulties in 2020, the company has not reduced the remuneration of any employee nor did it retrench any of the workers when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Namibia. All employees received their annual bonuses for 2020.”
According to the statement, Best Cheer Investments employees are some of the best-remunerated workers in the Namibian dimension stone industry. Workers earn an average salary of N$7 200 per month. They also receive monthly production bonuses, pension, travel allowances, and food allowances as well as discretionary annual bonuses.
Best cheer Investments stated that it has done its utmost best to maintain a good relationship between the stakeholders and the employees under tough economic circumstances and is therefore not in a position to implement the demands made by the union on behalf of the employees.