* Rossing says workers have to return to work immediately
* Union says appeals ruling, to strike until appeal heard
(Adds union appeal, details)
JOHANNESBURG, Sept 28 The management at Rio
Tinto's Rossing uranium mine in Namibia said a
labour court had decided in the company's favour and declared an
ongoing strike at the operation illegal.
The company said on Wednesday all workers, who have been on
strike since the early shift on Friday, were required to return
to work immediately. The union said it had appealed the ruling
and would continue its walkout.
"The company is pleased to note that the employees' demand
for 30,000 Namibian dollars ($3,808) cannot permissibly form
part of any lawful industrial action, and a final relief order
was issued to declare the current strike illegal," the mining
firm said in a statement.
The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (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 that sparked a three-day strike in July.
"(The appeal) in principle suspends the labour court
verdict, meaning that the status quo remains until the urgent
application is heard and the new verdict is given," MUN's
Rossing branch representative, Ismael Kasuto, told Reuters.
Rossing had already offered workers an unconditional
up-front payment of 15,200 Namibian dollars and a further
N$2,100 to N$5,150 per worker, which is conditional on safety
and production performance during the fourth quarter.
That offer was snubbed by the workers in favour of a strike.
Workers have been asking for N$30,000 each, on top of
N$11,000 they have already received.
The company said on Wednesday it would consider the next
steps for resolving the outstanding issues in the dispute once
work has returned to normal.
The strike has hurt output at Rossing, where production was
already hit by heavy rains earlier in the year. Rossing produced
around 8 million pounds (3.63 million kgs) of uranium last year.
Rio Tinto has a 68.6 percent stake in the mine.
($1 = 7.876 Namibian Dollars)
(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak and Olivia Kumwenda; Editing by
Jon Herskovitz and Jane Baird)