Politicians clash over Salgaocar
MBABANE – Robert Magongo, Motshane Member of Parliament (MP) stands accused of visiting the Salgaocar Iron Ore mine and premises to address workers.
The MP has admitted visiting the company’s premises but categorically denies allegations, contained in letters written to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, to the effect that he incited the workers.
Salgaocar employees have allegedly written a confidential letter to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, reporting Magongo’s alleged incitement.
The letter is signed by three employees and was delivered to the ministry last Wednesday.
Salgaocar has 120 employees.
The workers allege that Magongo visited the mine on July 2, 2012 and subsequently told them to stop working until the ongoing standoff between Salgaocar and the Ngwenya Joint Venture was resolved.
The Joint Venture comprises companies like AG Thomas and WBHO.
The tender had all along been awarded to foreign companies who transported the iron ore dumps to Mozambique.
In May, the tender was granted to local subcontractors.
The legislator is said to have again visited the mine last Tuesday.
The workers said Magongo told them that he had been made aware that the company had terminated WBHO’s contract.
"On July 2, 2012 at around 9am, MP Robert Magongo came to the mine. He called all the workers to a meeting. During the meeting, he said he had been made aware that WBHO’s contract ends on July 11, 2012. He said all the workers should go on strike until the matter was resolved," reads the letter.
It continued: "He came to the mine again on July 3, 2012 to ensure that everyone was on strike. Basically, we were all influenced by Magongo to pursue strike action," Minister Lutfo Dlamini has confirmed receiving the letter from Salgaocar employees.
He was disappointed in Magongo.
Interviewed on Wednesday, the minister said Salgaocar was one of the companies that had provided jobs for Swazis, hence contributing to the country’s economy. He said government was happy that the company decided to give 100 per cent of the job to Swazis.
"It is for this reason that we therefore take exception to individuals who are interfering with the process of labour laws and activities in the company," he said. "As a ministry, we request concerned members of Parliament to approach the Ministry of Labour whenever there are concerns or grievances they want to address with regard to the operation of a company. What Magongo did was very wrong and unprofessional," he said.
"Labour officials are available every time. We request that even other companies should also contact the ministry," he said.
Meanwhile, Motshane MP Robert Magongo has refuted claims that he incited Salgaocar employees to engage in a strike.
He, however, admitted to have visited the company and further met with the employees.
He said he went to the company’s premises after being invited by the employees who were concerned as to what would happen to them once AG Thomas and WBHO exit.
"I never told them to go on strike because I don’t have the power to do so," he said on Friday.
"Before my visit I consulted Minister Tsandzile (of Natural Resources and Energy) who advised that I speak to Minister Lutfo because the matter falls under his portfolio. I called Minister Lutfo but he showed arrogance (wadvwala). I went to the company because I have the right to do so," he said. He said even though he was not aware of the letter written by the employees, he believed it was just a fabrication.
"I think the letter was created by Minister Lutfo because he thinks he is clever," he said while insisting that its authors were not employees of Salgaocar. During the interview, Magongo pulled out his cellphone and called one Zweli Thwala. The phone was on loud speaker mode.
Thwala said he was a clerk at the Ngwenya mine
"Thwala, some people are saying I have told you, as workers, to engage in a strike. How true is this information?" asked Magongo.
In response, Thwala said: "Who said that? During your visit here, you never told us to stop working."
"Thwala, there is a letter from some of the employees stating that I incited workers to go on strike. Who do you think wrote the letter?" Magongo asked.
"What letter? I don’t think anyone of us could have written a letter saying such," responded Thwala.
Mining company’s environmental concerns
MBABANE – Sankirta Shantila, Salgaocar General Manager Administration and Compliance, wrote a letter on June 9, 2012 in which he complained that the Ngwenya Joint Venture failed to take orders.
The letter reads as follows:
"Reference is made to our chairman’s site inspection yesterday June 8, 2012.
It was observed that most of the material that was being screened was blown away due to strong winds. "This not only gave rise to loss of cargo but also an environmental risk. Having observed this the chairman gave an instruction to shut down the screen alternatively to spray water to mitigate loss and environmental issues.
This repeated instruction, from the highest rank in our organisation, was disregards outright disregarded by yourselves and your employees. Taking into consideration the event that unfolded yesterday makes one question the working relationship if the contractor cannot take instructions from the client’s highest authority then what of the instructions from its authorised personel."
Salgaocar feels frustrated
MBABANE - Salgaocar Swaziland has cut its ties with the Ngwenya Joint Venture.
The company terminated the agreement it had with Ngwenya Joint Venture on May 30, 2012.
The agreement had been entered into on April 21, 2012, which means it only subsisted for a month.
When cancelling the agreement, Shanmuga Rethenam, Salgaocar Swaziland’s Executive Chairman, expressed disappointment in the conduct of employees of the Joint Venture.
"We cannot understand why the Joint Venture refuses to carry out lawful instructions issued to it by Salgaocar as the employer. From our discussions and your conduct, it is clear that the Joint Venture is bent on frustrating Salgaocar’s operations at the mine and this has led to our working environment to be no longer conducive," stated Rethenam in a letter.
"This letter now serves as formal notification to the Joint Venture that Salgaocar has exercised its right to terminate the Memorandum of Understanding and that the mandatory 30-day termination notice period shall commence on June 11, 2012," he wrote. Following the above notice, the Ngwenya Joint Venture is expected to remove its machinery and equipment from the mine site and vacate the place by Wednesday (July 11, 2012).
After this, Salgaocar Swaziland decided to award the job to other companies.
MBE Transport and Construction Services has since been awarded the tender of crushing and screening the iron ore dumps before transportation. This company is expected to assume operations tomorrow (Monday).
"Thank you for allowing our company the opportunity to work with your esteemed company. In an effort to make transition from the outgoing contractor, we confirm, as agreed, that we will ensure that first preference will be given to the existing employees in order to absorb as many of them as possible," said Sihle Shiba, the company’s contract manager.
Another company that has been offered a job at the Ngwenya mine is MDUE Motor Sport.
In a letter confirming that it would be establishing operations on the site, the company said: "Preference shall be given to the already existing Ngwenya Joint Venture Swazi employees in so far as we are able to, without compromising the quality of the service."
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