MOPANI Copper Mines (MCM) has decided to lay off more than 4,000 out of the more than 7,000 unionized workers but this will only take effect after the management and the unions agree on a pay package for the miners who will be retrenched.
And Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) is to place its Nchanga underground mine on care and maintenance, but its employees would not be laid off but instead redeployed to various departments of KCM. The job cuts have been necessitated by increased load-shedding, falling copper prices at the London Metal Exchange and the continued depreciation of the Kwacha.
Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) president Nkole Chishimba said the union was frustrated and saddened that despite the negotiations and proposals on how to avoid job losses, Mopani management had decided to lay off more than 4,000 miners.
Mr Chishimba, who is also Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president, announced yesterday during a press briefing at Katilungu House in Kitwe that the giant mining company had decided to lay off workers because of the power deficit and the falling copper prices on the world market.
“As a union, we have been negotiating with Mopani regarding the issue of preventing job losses at the mine. For us, as a union, we had made it clear that we did not want job losses, but Mopani decided to take the route of laying off miners. They have decided to lay off more than 4,000 miners.
“This is a very sad development. It is very devastating that as a union, we can lose more than 4,000 miners. This battle we have fought was not worth fighting because we could have found an alternative solution of saving job cuts.
‘‘I hope in future mining companies will not rush for job cuts when they are faced with such challenges,” Mr Chishimba said.
At the same briefing which was attended by National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) president James Chansa, United Mineworkers Union of Zambia (UMUZ) and Zambia Union of Nurses Organization (ZUNO) officials, Mr Chishimba said the union was now negotiating for better packages for the miners who would be laid off.
He said the whole process of laying off miners at MCM was expected to be completed by November 21st and the union was hopeful that the management would agree to a better package for those who would be laid off during this period.
“Miners are being laid off for short term effects of falling copper prices at the world market, power deficit which may improve any time; but the problem is that even if the situation improved after two weeks, the retrenched miners will not be recalled back to work. This is indeed devastating,” he said.
The MUZ chief also disclosed that KCM is to place its Nchanga underground mine on care and maintenance, but its employees would be redeployed to various departments of KCM.
And Mr Chishimba said President Edgar Lungu’s recent visit to the Copperbelt to talk to mining companies had yielded desirable results because he ensured that mine companies such as Luanshya Copper Mines (LCM) who were not ready to negotiate with unions were told to commence negotiations.
He aid the situation at LCM was better now because the management and the unions were negotiating for improved subsistence for those workers who were sent home whilst waiting for the mine to start full time operations.