Friday, March 14, 2008
By Bright Mukwasa and Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Friday March 14, 2008 [03:00]
VICE-President Rupiah Banda has cautioned unions in the mining sector against tribalism and racism in their operations. And National Union for Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) has observed that the inequality among workers doing the same job in most mines on the Copperbelt is a recipe for industrial unrest.
Meanwhile, labour minister Ronald Mukuma has advised mine unions to engage in social dialogue with their employers to resolve their grievances.
Speaking at the official opening of the NUMAW quadrennial conference in Lusaka yesterday, Vice-President Banda said any from of racism and tribalism was archaic and retrogressive.
Vice-President Banda also said the rising copper prices should enable investors to pay their workers accordingly.
He also advised unions in the country to avoid of violence.
“We urge your union, in this regard, to always remember that unionism of violence, retrogressive rhetoric, industrial disharmony and lack of responsibility belongs to the past. Government, therefore, condemns the behaviour of the mine workers at Chambishi Copper Smelter who participated in an illegal work stoppage and the destruction of property,” said Vice-President Banda.
He said the rise in copper prices at the international market should stimulate productivity in the mining sector which in turn should result in motivation for the workforce through better pay and conditions of service.
Vice-President Banda also said the government also expected mining companies to fully comply with the local labour laws.
And NUMAW president Mundia Sikufele said there was need for the government to strengthen its regulatory policy in monitoring the mining owners over the conditions of service they offered.
“Despite the mining industry employing about 75 per cent of the eligible employees on the Copperbelt, we are concerned with the increasing levels of contract labour,” Sikufele said. “It is becoming clearer day by day that some contract workers are receiving remuneration and terms and conditions which sometimes are in violation of our country’s labour laws. Such inequalities in conditions of service among the workers doing the same job are a clear recipe for industrial unproductivity and resentment.
We do understand that our role is to expose abuses workers endure in mine houses but there is need for government to consider strengthening regulatory frameworks in both the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development and Ministry of Labour and Social Security.”
Sikufele also said NUMAW regretted the violence and the subsequent destruction of property at Chambishi Copper Smelter last week.
“We believe that violence in any situation retards development, demoralises economic players and frustrates clearly defined efforts and procedures in dispute resolutions,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mukuma said social dialogue remained the most effective way of addressing the workers’ plight in the country.