7 April, 2015Two days after a mass rally of unions, opposition parties and civic groups, Mauritania’s state-owned iron ore company has agreed to reopen talks with unions, bringing an end to a two-month-long strike late on 2 April.
Thousands of workers downed tools on 28 January after the National Industrial and Mining Company (SNIM) reneged on an agreement made in October last year with IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the Fédération Nationale de l’Energie Hydrocarbure et Mines et Industrie (FNEHMI) to increase wages and implement a production bonus among other conditions.
After intense campaigning by FNEHMI and other unions, the company has agreed to go back to the negotiating table.
Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has said the strikers will receive the equivalent of two months’ salary and another month’s payment in advance if they go back to work.
Furthermore, the 400 workers who were sacked for striking will get their jobs back and face no sanctions.
Laghdaf Dia Sanghare, general secretary of FNEHMI said:
All the unions that participated in the strike believe the solution reached is acceptable because of the serious stage of the strike - workers were about to lose their jobs and the company was on the verge of going bankrupt.
“The general solution is satisfactory because the agreement included the condition to continue the negotiations over other issues, especially the key reason of the strike which is the application of 2014 agreement which stipulates giving workers an increase of 10 percent."
The Mauritanian state has a 78 per cent stake in SNIM. The other shareholders include the Industrial Bank of Kuwait, Arab Mining Company and the Iraqi Fund for Foreign Development.
SNIM is known as the lungs of the Mauritanian economy. The desert African country relies heavily on iron ore products, which amounted to 76 per cent of exports in 2013.