Members of the biggest union at Namdeb Diamond would strike on Friday after pay talks with the gem-producing venture between Anglo American’s De Beers unit and the Namibian government failed, the Mineworkers Union of Namibia said yesterday. The union wanted a 15 percent raise in basic wages and improved medical aid and education benefits for its 1 400 members, branch spokesman Mathew Nangombe said. Namdeb is offering increases of 7.5 percent to 8.5 percent. The inflation rate was 6.1 percent in May. “The only option is to strike. We held a mass meeting with workers on Friday and they said they are not interested in the company’s offer. A vote will be conducted on Wednesday and thereafter we will give a 45-hour notice to strike.” Output by Namdeb rose 6 percent to 1.76 million carats last year. The lowest-paid mineworker earns a basic salary of N$6 400 (R6 400) monthly, according to the union. Employees had to pay for “expensive medical aid” and could not afford the fees they were paying at a company-sponsored school, he said. “We are not demanding luxuries. We can’t afford the medical aid and the [school] fees. The company has to push up our wages.” Namdeb spokeswoman Pauline Thomas declined to comment on the strike threat. – Bloomberg