* Union gives strike notice, to walk off Friday
* Rossing seeks to prevent strike via court
By Servaas van den Bosch
WINDHOEK, Sept 21 (Reuters) - The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) on Wednesday threatened Rio Tinto’s Rossing uranium mine with strike action, prompting the company to seek court action to stop it.
MUN served the company with a strike notice after failing to reach a deal in talks over output incentives, with a stoppage slated to start on Friday.
MUN, which represents some 1,200 of Rossing’s 1,600 workers, has been protesting over differences in bonuses paid to workers and management in a dispute which has already caused a three-day illegal strike in July.
“We have served the company with a notice to strike today (Wednesday),” MUN’s Rossing branch representative Ismael Kasuto told Reuters, adding that the strike was set to commence on Friday at 0600 GMT.
Rossing in turn said it had approached a labour court to have the dispute settled via a judicial process, which would block workers from striking.
“This morning Rossing filed a Labour Court motion seeking that the ... (dispute) be determined through the court process and also that employees can, therefore, not engage in industrial action until the motion is heard,” the company said in a statement.
“Management continues to explore all the possible avenues to ensure that this issue is resolved amicably, without the need to revert to industrial action which benefits no-one.”
Rossing has said it had two different incentive schemes for workers and management and is unwilling to bow to the union’s demands, calling them “unreasonable and one-sided”.
Workers are demanding 30,000 Namibian dollars ($3,877) each on top of N$11,000 they have already received.
Strike action would further hurt output at Rossing, one of the world’s biggest uranium producers, whose production was hit by heavy rains earlier in the year. Rossing produced around 8 million lb of uranium last year.
Rio Tinto has a 68.6 percent stake in the mine.