Mon 25 Jun 2007, 11:01 GMT
CHINGOLA, Zambia (Reuters) - Unions leaders for miners at Zambia's Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) have rejected a 15 percent pay rise offered by management and are demanding a 40 percent increase, a management source told Reuters on Monday.
The source said KCM management had declined to award workers more than 15 percent in salaries and wages citing huge expenditure on upgrades at its Nkana Smelter and the new Konkola Deep Mine Project (KDMP), where more than $400 million will be spent to develop the mine.
KCM is majority owned by London-listed Vedanta Resources.
Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MUZ) President Rayford Mbulu said talks continued on Monday but he declined to say if management had increased its offer from the initial 15 percent.
"I don't have full disclosure from the joint council (negotiating team) yet but I hope we can conclude the negotiations hopefully by next week," Mbulu told Reuters.
The salary negotiations were scheduled to be completed before the end of June but officials doubt whether an agreement will be reached before then.
"Our management wants to offer workers a 15 percent pay rise in 2007 because we are spending millions of dollars to upgrade the Nkana Smelter and also to construct the KDMP, but the unions have rejected our offer," the source said on condition of anonymity.
The KCM official said the MUZ and National Union of Mining and Allied Workers (NUMAW) were both asking management to increase salaries of their members by 40 percent.
"They are asking for a higher pay rise because the copper prices are high and the company is making profits and not losses," the KCM official added.
Miners at KCM went on strike and rioted in 2005 after union leaders reached deadlock with management during negotiations for higher salaries and improved conditions of service.
President Levy Mwanawasa intervened and brokered a deal for a 35 percent pay increase, which unions then accepted. KCM miners now make an average of about $400 per month.
KCM is Zambia's largest copper produce and its Nkana, Nchanga Open Pit and Konkola mines are expected to produce about 200,000 of finished copper this year. KCM also operates the Nampundwe pyrite mine and Nkana Smelter.