THE B2Gold cooperation, a Canadian mining company operating in Namibia, has defended the suspension of more than 160 of its employees who allegedly illegally stopped working overtime.
B2Gold has clarified that it has in its possession a Valid Continuous Operations Permit and Continues Production licence which allows the company to have its employees work overtime.
This was, however, ignored by the Mine Workers Union (MUN), who doubted the validity of the Continuous Operations Permit adding that they believed that it was expired.
Holding this believe from the union, the workers declined to work beyond 17:00 from 1 October 2022, resulting in their suspension and the company hiring contract workers to fill their positions.
In a media release, the management of B2Gold shared that the Ministry of Labour approved and issued the new Continuous Operations Permit on 25 March 2021 for the period commencing on 1 June 2021 and expiring on 31 May 2024.
B2Gold shared that following several meetings between B2Gold Namibia and the union to address its concerns, B2Gold Namibia organised a meeting in August 2022 with the Ministry of Labour, the union and the company, where the Ministry of Labour definitively confirmed that the Continuous Operations Permit was valid and in full effect.
However, on 30 September 2022, the union submitted a letter to B2Gold Namibia, formally declaring its intention to stop work as of 1 October 2022 on the basis that the Continuous Operations Permit had expired on 1 October 2022.
Despite this, B2Gold stated that the mine which it operates in Namibia, the Otjikoto Mine, continues to operate.
In the spirit of cooperation and partnership, B2Gold Namibia has made a concerted effort to address the union’s concerns and will continue to engage in constructive dialogue to resolve the issue.
As of end of 2021, B2Gold Namibia had a total of 871 permanent employees and 51 temporary employees, with 98.6% of B2Gold Namibia’s total workforce being Namibian.
Intervening on the matter, the labour ministry stated that it has become apparent, through statements published in the media, that MUN and B2Gold have misinterpreted the applicable provisions of the Labour Act and that it is also apparent that their relations are deteriorating.
The Minister has therefore decided to lead a team to meet with B2Gold Management and the MUN on 11 October 2022 to try to dispel the misunderstanding about the Labour Act and to restore the previously healthy relationship between the parties.