THE multiplicity of trade unions in the mining industry has made it difficult for workers’ representatives to speak with one strong voice during challenging times such as now when various investors were threatening to lay-off their workers for various reasons, Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) General Secretary Joseph Chewe has said.
He said because of the multiplicity of unions in the mining industry, it had become difficult for the miners to speak with one strong voice.
Mr Chewe said different union’s leaders had their own agenda, despite making statements which favoured their members.
The mining industry has three trade unions; the National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW), United Mine Workers Union of Zambia (UMWUZ) and Mine Worker Union of Zambia(MUZ).
Mr Chewe said in an interview in Kitwe yesterday that the multiplicity of unions in the mining industry had given some greedy and unscrupulous employers enough room to divide the workers so that they could not mobilize and fight for their own interests.
“The voice of the miners is not as strong as it used to be in the past, because of the multiplicity of unions in the industry. The voice of miners is weak because miners belong to different unions and each union has its own way of doing things.
“It is us, the union leaders to blame. We can’t blame anybody else on the multiplicity of unions. In difficult times like now when employers want to lay-off their workers for all sorts of reasons, we are supposed to speak with one voice, but we are not speaking with one voice. Anyway, as MUZ, we will try to continue fighting battles in the interest of our members,” he said.
When asked whether MUZ was not feeling betrayed that other mine workers unions like NUMAW and UMUZ had remained silent on issues threatening the jobs of their members such as load-shedding and low Copper prices, Mr Chewe said he could not comment on that issue, but would rather leave it to members of the public to make their own observation.
“As MUZ, we will speak out if the jobs of our members are being threatened in one way or the other, but we will not speak about being betrayed by other unions. It is up to you, the media and other members of public to make an observation whether MUZ is being betrayed by other unions or not.
“But, as i said earlier, as miners, we need unity of purpose this time so that we can speak with one voice and save the jobs of our members. We are union leaders because of our members,” he said.