Friday, July 25, 2008

KCM workers had no right to protest, says Mukuma

KCM workers had no right to protest, says Mukuma
By Mutuna Chanda in Kitwe and Abigail Chaponda in Ndola
Friday July 25, 2008 [04:00]

LABOUR minister Ronald Mukuma has said the unionised Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) workers at the Nkana smelter had no right to protest against the recent negotiated settlement. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday shortly after meeting National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) officials, Mukuma said unionised KCM workers could have found a better way to express their grievances.

He said this in reference to the one-day work stoppage by KCM workers at Nkana smelter in Kitwe last week after which 14 employees were dismissed for allegedly disrupting operations.

The workers protested against the 15 per cent salary increment awarded to them, demanding instead 50 per cent.

“The 15 per cent was a negotiated settlement and workers had no right to go against that because that is what their representatives had agreed to,” Mukuma said.

Mukuma said companies made offers of salary increments and other conditions of service based on their capacity and wondered where more funds would come from if they allowed more than what they were able to pay.

Mukuma said the KCM workers were dismissed based on disciplinary action taken by the company.

“According to the Zambian labour laws, if you go on strike without declaring a dispute then that strike is illegal,” Mukuma said. “They were dismissed under disciplinary action but the local union is addressing it.”

He advised unionised workers to familiarise themselves with labour laws.

“Just as employers can contravene labour laws, employees can also contravene labour laws, so they have to familiarise themselves with the labour laws so that they don’t break them,” Mukuma said.

And during a visit to the Workers Compensation Fund Control Board in Ndola on Tuesday, Mukuma said funding to the institution had increased from K82 billion to K120 billion.

He said the performance of the institution had improved from the time that the restructuring exercise started in March last year.

“... And employer sensitisation seminars have been carried out in some towns and this has resulted in increased collection of K94.4 billion in employer assessments as of March 31st 2008,” he said.

Mukuma said the purpose of his visit to Ndola was to monitor the restructuring programme of the fund which begun in March last year. He also said the new board of directors for the fund would be appointed this week.

Mukuma said the new board would finalise the restructuring process and improved benefit levels at the fund.

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