The General Manager of Vedante Scorpion Zinc has stated that the illegal strike by more than 500 employees at the mine over the past two weeks could very well be the last push for the mine which is nearing the end of operations due to ore depletion.
During an interview, Irvinne Simataa stated that around 550 employees at the mine under the Basil Read Mining contracting company downed tools on 22 February after allegations of racism, salary disparities and unfair labour practices between white and black workers were reported.
Simataa stated that 12 days later, the company has not mined anything.
“We are aware of the complaints of racism, salary disparities and unfair labour practices. It is appropriate for Basil Read and the Mine Workers Union to vent about those matters as they are what culminated in the strike”.
He however stated the allegations are not practices tolerated by Vedante Scorpion Zinc. Simataa said that preliminary information shows that out of the striking 550 employs from Basil Reed, only 50 employees are affected by the unfair labour practices reported.
Out of these 50 people, some are overpaid and some are underpaid. This is due to factors such salary negations as some come from external companies and some adjustments are made by Basil Read.
He added that an issue which only affects 50 workers does not warrant close to 600 people striking.
He added that disciplinary hearings for the strike started on Sunday 3 March, and employees have pleaded guilty that they have indeed gone on strike illegally.
“Somebody has to account for whatever irregularities were reported. However nobody has been fired so far. We should not get sidetracked by an issue affecting around 50 people but rather look at the bigger picture of 1 700 employees being negatively impacted. Our production has dropped significantly from 100% to 10% over the last few years. We have depleted our ore, we are living hand to mouth, we don’t know how long the mine can still survive. We want to maintain that this was meant to be a three year project only.” Simataa said
He added that they have invested around U$200 million into the project and this financial year is supposed to be the peak of production. He however stated that the mine has been performing poorly due to design flaw as well as non-performance.
“We are not in a good space, if some employees are not truthful, I cannot guarantee them a job in the next three weeks. I invite anyone to pin point the racism issue, there is zero people that will come forth, there is no racism on discussions, lets deal with bigger issues, if it’s salary issues, lets deal with that issue. Mining is the main part of the business, the refinery part of the business not operating is affecting the other departments, this will erode the value of the project” Simataa lamented.
He encouraged parties to sit down and resolve the issue so that everybody can get back to work and minimize the damage.