Pressure is mounting on the Government to take decisive action against mining companies that are determined to suspend operations and cause the loss of jobs in response to the global commodities price decline which has affecxted copper negatively.
Mine workers Union of Zambia (MUZ) and the National Union of Mines and Allied Workers (NUMAW) have resolved to seek audience with Republican President Edgar Lungu to find a solution to the problem of pending job losses in the mining industry due to load-shedding and low copper prices.
During a joint press briefing between the MUZ and NUMAW leadership at Katilungu House in Kitwe yesterday, MUZ president Nkole Chishimba said the two unions in the mining industry were appealing to President Lungu to help resolve the current challenges in the mining industry especially to help put to a stop the laying-off of mine workers.
“And because of the sensitivity of the matter, we further demand that we have an audience with his excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia Edgar Lungu at State House,” Mr Chishimba said.
The press briefing was attended by NUMAW president James Chansa, MUZ General Secretary Joseph Chewe and other union officials.
Mr Chishimba said the problem of load-shedding and low copper prices at the London Metal Exchange has seen mining companies reacting differently to the above named factors, ranging from retrenchment of workers, placing workers on reduced salaries, to sending workers on forced leave and also in some cases closing parts of their operations.
He gave an example of CLM Luanshya which placed Baluba Mine and the Concentrator on Care and Maintenance and sent 1,650 workers on forced leave with an allowance of K900
“Issues pertaining to mines are family matters, national matters and the unions’ positions are expected to be known by the public, hence our communication as MUZ and NUMAW to a bigger audience, the public.
“As unions, we have had engagements with all the affected mining company houses to discuss their decisions and find the way forward, but things have not been promising hence our resolve to seek audience to meet President Lungu because he is our last man in defence,” Mr Chishimba said.
He said it had been observed that some mining companies have had long standing intentions of reducing labour and doing away with parts of their operations even before load shedding and the low copper price.
“All of us, as stakeholders, that is Government, unions and workers must attach sensitivity to what is happening in the mining industry so that we safe guard the mines now and the future generations.
“The current state of affairs might not be permanent, it could a passing phase but must not be allowed to leave devastating and indelible marks in the lives of men and women who have helped the mines to be where they are today,” Mr Chishimba said.
And NUMAW president James Chansa said the mine workers’ unions would not allow job losses in the mining industry.
He said the two unions resolved to seek audience with President Lungu because ministers had failed to provide direction on the issue of mining companies threatening job losses to its members.
“As unions of mine workers, we would not like to see job losses in the mines. Our ministers have failed to provide direction on this matter where our members are being threatened with job losses, hence our decision to seek audience with republican President Edgar Lungu,” Mr Chansa said